From FTC.gov —
By K. Michelle Grajales, Attorney, Division of Financial Practices —
The Department of Education (ED)’s application for federal student loan debt relief is now open and, of course, scammers are on the move — trying to get your money and personal information. Luckily, there are ways to stop them, so keep reading to find out how to protect yourself as you apply for relief.
As people file their applications, ED will review them on a rolling basis. Pack some patience and follow the process…not those who say they can put you in front of the line. Because those are scammers. Here’s what to know right now to steer clear of scammers:
- Apply at StudentAid.gov/DebtRelief. Nowhere else. Right now, application is online only and in English and Spanish. A paper application will be available later.
- Don’t pay to apply. It’s FREE. Anyone who says you need to pay is a scammer. And anyone who guarantees approval or quicker forgiveness: scam, scam, scam.
- Know what to share, where, and when. The real application will ask for your name, birth date, Social Security number, phone number, and address. But, when you apply online, you don’t have to upload or attach any documents.
- Know what not to share. When you apply, nobody legit will ask for your FSA ID, bank account, or credit card information. Anyone who does: scammer. (Stay tuned for more info when ED starts processing applications. Some applicants will have to verify their income, but not yet.)
- Expect email updates from ED. After you apply, you may hear from ED — to upload tax documents verifying your income — or to give updates on your application. Those emails will only come from firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Pay close attention the sender address for emails about loan forgiveness — looking for slight typos — to avoid a scammer’s fake emails.
- Follow ED’s process if your application is denied. Anyone who says they can get you approved (for a fee) is a scammer. Your email notice will have instructions. Follow those, and if you have questions, call FSA’s dedicated phone line at 1-833-932-3439. Expect long wait times.
Have you spotted one of these scams? Tell us about it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
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