Warnings have been released by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and The Better Business Bureau (BBB) about student loan scams targeting students.
COVID-19 Relief Fund Phishing Emails
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support on March 27th, 2020. This Act included relief for students, pausing federal student loan payments and interest through September. Unfortunately, this relief effort has been exploited by bad actors who have seen this as an opportunity to defraud unsuspecting borrowers with student loan scams.
Phishing emails, claiming to provide access to CARES funds, have spiked. These messages often claim to be from your school’s financial aid department, and contain fraudulent messaging about COVID-19 relief funds. Recipients who click on the links within the email are at risk of unknowingly downloading malware or exposing sensitive information such as their school login information. Luckily, the best practices for handling other phishing emails are still effective here:
- Hover over hyperlinks before clicking on to see the destination. Most schools have a .edu domain, so if the message has a URL that doesn’t conform to your school’s web address, don’t click on the link.
- Look for grammar and spelling errors. Phishing emails are often poorly written, and contain typos.
- Never enter any personal information on a website unless you’re 100% positive it is the correct website. Again, know what your school’s web address is, and make sure that the domain in your web browser matches that.
- Finally, keep in mind that companies that promise to reduce or forgive all of your debt are typically scams.
Navient Lawsuit/Loan Forgiveness Calls
Students should also be suspicious of any phone calls claiming to be from Navient that say they are part of a lawsuit settlement and their student loans have been forgiven. Scammers will then ask for personal information and/or ask you to pay a transfer fee to process the student debt forgiveness. To be clear, borrowers will never receive a call from Navient offering to transfer or forgive their loan(s). Read our previous blog on student loan forgiveness scams for more tips.
If you’re ever unsure of information coming from your student loan servicer, you can reach out to an IonTuition advisor. We have priority phone lines into all federal servicers and can connect you to the right person to clarify questions about your account. You can also report student loan related scams to Federal Student Aid.