Member security: How to spot a student loan forgiveness scam

Mouse trap with graduation cap that lists the words “Student Loan Scam.”
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The government’s plan to forgive some federal student loans was welcome news to many of our members. It’s an important first step toward a brighter economic future for college graduates with burdensome student loan debt.

Unfortunately, the announcement was welcome news to fraudsters, too. As the Department of Education continues to hammer out the details of the new student loan forgiveness plan, scammers have already worked out how to turn a quick profit by using the program to trick unsuspecting people into giving them cash.

But don’t worry — OCCU has your back. We’re always on the lookout for the latest scams so we can alert you in time to keep you and your money safe. As usual, knowledge is your best defense against fraud, and we’ve got the information you need to protect yourself from student loan forgiveness scams.

How student loan forgiveness scams work

It’s only natural that people with college debt are eager to take advantage of the new loan forgiveness program. However, scammers are cashing in on this eagerness by offering early access or guaranteed eligibility — if you pay them a fee.

“Nobody can get you in early, help you jump the line, or guarantee eligibility,” says K. Michelle Grajales, an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). “And anybody who says they can — or tries to charge you — is (1) a liar, and (2) a scammer.”

Avoiding these scams is easy: Simply don’t respond to any emails or phone calls requesting your money or information in exchange for access to student loan forgiveness. If you receive one, let the FTC know at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

What you need to know about student loan forgiveness

Understanding a few basic facts about the federal loan forgiveness program can help keep you from getting scammed. The first thing you need to know is that the plan hasn’t been implemented yet because it’s still being developed.

“It won’t happen overnight, and they’ll announce it widely when the program opens up for debt forgiveness,” Grajales says.

While you can’t enroll in the program quite yet, what you can do is sign up for Department of Education updates so you’ll be notified once the process has officially opened. You can also learn more about the program details here.

In the meantime, the federal student loan payment pause has been extended to December 31, 2022. Remember: You don’t need to do anything or pay anybody to pause your student loan payments.

As the launch of the federal student loan forgiveness program draws closer, you can expect scammers to double down on their efforts to turn a quick profit. But with our team here to keep a lookout, you don’t need to worry. We always keep our members’ security at the forefront so we can arm you with the information you need to protect yourself.