The pause on repayment of student loans has been extended to May 1, 2022, so it’s no surprise that TNS has seen repayment scams ramping up as a result. Student loan scams have been around for a long time, but fraudsters continue to tweak their techniques to become more topical and realistic.

Student loan debt can be a huge burden and scammers will play on this to find victims. These scams come in the form of phone calls, emails and text messages. Some will go as far as to build a fictitious company with a website and brand to appear trustworthy.

Below 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.”

This scammer uses an interactive voice response system to find people who will answer the call and interact with them. If the potential victim responded yes, they would likely receive a text with a link, or be transferred to a live agent who may try to obtain their credit card and other information. To someone unaware of these scams and looking for help with student loan debt, this call may seem like a huge relief.

If you need student loan forgiveness or refinancing, contact the source of your loan directly. If they or another company reaches out to you offering support, this is a red flag, and you should contact them directly to ensure the legitimacy of their message.

Other red flags include asking for a fee or upfront payment, asking for your loan account log in, and immediate loan forgiveness. Refinancing does not cost extra money and immediate forgiveness is not something a bank can do. You should also never give your personal information over the phone.

Legitimate companies and student loan forgiveness programs exist, although it can be confusing to tell the difference. Luckily, legitimate companies are easy to identify with simple online searches. It is best to reach out to these companies and programs directly if you believe something may be a scam. If you’re in default on your federal student loan, please follow the instructions on the Federal Student Aid website.

If you did give your account information or paid a debt relief company, it is recommended that you contact your loan servicer and ensure no unwanted changes have been made and contact your bank to stop any charges from the scammer. You can also report student loan scams to 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 and share information about scams with others.

Jim Tyrrell is Senior Director of Product Marketing at TNS with specific responsibility for TNS’ Communications Market solutions.

Call Guardian is a registered trademark of Transaction Network Services, Inc.