BBB warns of scammers preying on borrowers anxious for Biden’s student loan debt relief

MADISON, Wis. — President Joe Biden’s Wednesday student loan debt forgiveness announcement could mean relief for more than 40 million Americans, but the Better Business Bureau says it’s also music to another group’s ears – scammers.  

“Scammers are going to take advantage of that and they’re not going to wait to take advantage of it,” said Tiffany Schultz, the regional director of the BBB serving Wisconsin.  

According to Schultz, stick to ed.gov and studentaid.gov for information on how and when you could get your $10,000 in debt erased.

“And of course, that information is going to be revolving and there’s going to be updated information as we get the details on this program,” she said.  

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According to studentaid.gov, nearly eight million borrowers could get relief automatically because income data is available to the U.S. Dept. of Education.  

But scammers are looking for those who are unsure or curious.

“So, what may happen is that you may receive an unsolicited phone call saying that this person is from the government and they tell you all you need to do is fill out this form and include a processing fee and we’ll take care of forgiving $10,000 on your student loans,” Schultz said.  

The first spontaneous phone call, email, text, or social media message alone is a big red flag.

“The government is never going to reach out to you unsolicited you’re going to have to take the initiative to get your loans forgiven,” said Schultz.

And when you are looking into it, watch out for anyone asking you for money to get your money back.  

“You should never have to pay any type of processing fee any type of fee in order to get your loans forgiven on this program,” Schultz said. “Students can lose charges on their credit cards they can lose their personal information, their social security numbers.”  

If you do give out personal info or lose your social security number, Schultz said to reach out to the Federal Trade Commission to keep your identity from being stolen and report the scammer to the BBB’s online Scam Tracker.  

Even though you may be done with school, Schultz said when trying to get that debt off your shoulders, “Always do your homework.”