Millions of Americans took out student loans to pay for their education, which means criminals have plenty of targets who are already stressed about debt.
Currently, federal student loans are issued at 0% percent interest and do not require any payments until Sept. 30, so anyone who gets contacted should be cautious about any calls saying their federal student loan payments are about to resume.
There are a few things to think about if you get a call about student loans that isn't from your loan provider:
- Who is the company that is calling? Is it trying to sell you a loan or a deal on making payments?
- Are they promising that they can reduce your monthly payments? If so, by what amount?
- Do they say they can have your loan forgiven and say if it is a quick process?
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If you haven't heard of the company before, try to do some research before calling back or answering their questions. Do your own research and don't rely on information solely from the call or voicemail.
Just because a caller says they can reduce your monthly payments doesn't mean it's a scam. However, many repayment companies will charge you a fee for something you can do in less than 30 minutes online.
A common way to reduce monthly payments is to change your repayment plan. If you're struggling to meet your current monthly payments, you might be able to switch to an income-driven repayment plan. Under those, monthly payments are capped at a certain percentage of your income.
Finally, if someone says they can have all or part of your loan forgiven quickly, be very skeptical. Federal loans can be forgiven, but it's a long and complicated process. The most common program is Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and that takes a decade to pay off.
Because the process is so complicated, even people who are in the right fields might have their applications denied. Last winter, the U.S. Department of Education only approved 3,500 applications of the more than 168,000 applicants for the PSLF who met the job requirements.
If you have questions about federal student loans, contact StudentAid.gov or contact your own loan provider.