In the run up to the June 2023 student loan forgiveness deadline extension, TNS has unfortunately seen repayment scams ramping up. Student loan scams have been around for a long time, but fraudsters continue to tweak their techniques by using tactics such as interactive voice response (IVR).

So, how are they doing this? Scammers are using an IVR system to find victims who will answer the phone and interact with them. For example, if the individual who is called responds ‘yes’ to finding out more about student loan repayment options, they will likely receive a text with a link or be transferred to a live agent who may try to obtain their credit card and other personal information.

Americans owe more than $1.76 trillion in student loan debt according to LendingTree. Student loan debt can be a huge burden and scammers will play on this to find unsuspecting victims. These scams may come in the form of phone calls, emails or text messages. Some scammers will go as far as creating a fictitious company with a website to appear trustworthy. To someone looking for help with student loan debt, a forgiveness program may seem like a huge relief, so it is important to be aware of the warning signs.

Here is a transcript from a student loan scam attempt

“Loan repayment options and hardship programs. These programs are only for individuals who have less than $160,000 in federal student loan debt. Having debt obligations may cause a hardship when added to your overall monthly bills. Using our automated approval technology, you are now able to obtain enrollment information based on your current situation. To use our AI automation and find the program you are approved for, you will need to write down the website. I will deliver a text message that will provide a link with the program benefits. Would you like to hear the website and receive a text message? I am sorry my responses are limited. I just need to know the answer to the previous question. Please state yes or no.”

We have collated our top three tips to help you avoid student loan forgiveness scams.

  • If you need student loan forgiveness or refinancing, you will need to contact the source of your loan directly. If they or another company reaches out to you offering support, this is a red flag.
  • It is important to remember that immediate forgiveness is not something a bank can do and that refinancing does not cost extra money. Other red flags include asking for a fee, upfront payment or asking for your loan account log in and personal information.
  • If you did give your account information or have paid a company claiming to offer debt relief, it is recommended that you contact your loan servicer to ensure no unwanted changes have been made and contact your bank to stop any potential charges from the scammer.

It is best practice to never engage with unknown numbers and report phone numbers being used by scammers to your carrier. If you believe you are the victim of a scam, you can report it to your local police, state Attorney General’s office and the FTC.

Call-blocking apps, including those powered by TNS Call Guardian®, are also a great resource for reporting and blocking unwanted robocalls. Stay vigilant, share information about scams with others and be sure to check out our monthly Scam of the Month page updates.

John Haraburda is Director of Product Management at TNS with specific responsibility for TNS’ Communications Market solutions.

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