We have received word that a number of people are receiving emails about settling their student loan debt. The way the scam currently works is people receive a non-specific email from a gmail account about settling their debt. The email offers to settle the debt in full for a Green Dot Money Pak voucher. Long after the funds have been transferred do the unsuspecting borrowers realize that they have been the victim of fraud.
What gives this particular scam away?
Though student loan debt settlement is a real thing, especially in the case of defaulted or severely delinquent loans, lenders are not likely to contact you via gmail. As anyone who has fallen behind on their student loans knows, the preferred method of contact is phone. If lenders did wish to contact you via email, it would not be using a gmail account. Instead it would be an account that ended @salliemae.com or @wellsfargo.com If the email is coming from a ymail, hotmail, or gmail account; you can be certain it isn’t a real email from your lender.
What to do if you receive a “settlement offer”?
If you are contacted by someone representing themselves to be your lender, do not give them any information about your account or loans. Instead, find out exactly what they want and why they are calling. If they are calling about a private student loan, go to that lenders website and give them a call. Explain what just happened and find out what is going on. If they are calling about a federal government loan, go to the federal government loan database, located at www.nslds.ed.gov to look up the loan in question. The loan database will have contact information for the appropriate loan servicer. Once again, give them a call to find out if the offer you received is real or not.
How common is this type of fraud?
Given the growing number of student loan delinquencies and defaults, scams like this will probably continue to pop up. People are desperate to get rid of their student loan debt, and if you talk to a bunch of random people, it won’t be long until you come across someone who is behind on their student loans.
How do I avoid student loan fraud?
We have seen a number of different types of student loan fraud. Generally speaking, common sense is the best medicine. If anything ever seems too good to be true, it probably is.
If you are paying off your student loans, every penny is precious. If you ever find yourself in a situation that seems off, it is definitely a good idea to take a step back and give it some thought. Discuss it with people you trust. Don’t let your student loan dilemma push you into becoming the victim of a scam.