January 16th, 2020 - Telecom, Identity and Protection
By Lavinia Kennedy, Director of Product Management, TNS
As the national student loan debt increases, the number of phone scammers offering student loan forgiveness increases. According to a recent Time Magazine article, Americans are drowning in $1.5 trillion of student loan debt. These calls have become one of the most common phone scams and, like most, it is just too good to be true.
Unfortunately, few people receive student loan forgiveness to begin with. It is very unlikely for someone to be randomly awarded debt relief over the phone. Student loan forgiveness requires a lot of qualifications, including military service and public service, working in specific communities, and some other criteria. Receiving forgiveness is tricky even for those who meet the qualifications. Follow these 5 tips to better understand the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
With this scam there is not only one culprit – many scammers are in on the scheme. Some are using more intimidating techniques while others are softer. Many callers claim to be agents and say there is a lawsuit regarding the receiver’s student loans.
“This is Agent ID 4251. I’m following back up with you regarding a recent lawsuit filing. Your student loan was accepted into the settlement and it entitles you to receive up to 90% loan forgiveness. Your application hasn’t been completed. What’s great is this offer applies to all loan statuses including if your loans are in default.”
Others may claim to be from the Student Loan Health Center – “I’m calling from the Student Loan Health Center. We’re reaching out to let you know that due to recent changes in the student loan forgiveness program, your Federal Student Loans may now qualify for loan forgiveness provided by the US Department of Education.”
There is not an organization under the name Student Loan Health Center. Scammers attempt to sound real by mentioning the US Government, lawsuits, or fake organizations. A list of the top college loan scam techniques can be found at The College Investor.
Scammers will use a real person recording or live caller along with a reference number to sound more legitimate. Harassing calls can also scare the call receiver to believe it is real. Many victims online – especially people who are desperate for loan forgiveness – reported that the calls sounded real and they believed it was a stroke of luck.
It comes down to one fact: the banks or government will not call out of the blue and offer student loan relief. Student loan debt relief companies or law firms do not have the ability to negotiate with Sallie Mae for a “special deal.” If you’re having difficulty repaying your Sallie Mae loan, call 800-472-5543 (800-4-SALLIE), where official advisors can work with you to help you get back on track.
The best thing to do is block the caller and report the number online. Reporting the number keeps others from falling for the scam and prevents future scammers from using this scheme.
In addition, consumers can protect themselves by leveraging telecom provider robocall detection solutions powered by TNS Call Guardian.
TNS analyzes robocall data from more than one billion daily call events across hundreds of telecom providers. Because of this volume of data, TNS extracts insights on emerging robocaller tactics and trends. While it is difficult to predict what the next major robocall scam will be, we do know this: scammers continue to rapidly evolve their tactics and targets to evade detection efforts. This means consumers must remain vigilant when it comes to suspicious incoming calls, and carriers must continue to commit to deploying innovative solutions to protect their subscribers.