Today I received a robocall from “The Department of Education” regarding my student loans. The recording said that I was flagged as being eligible for certain programs including student loan consolidation and student loan forgiveness. If I was interested in learning more, I was instructed to push 1, and if I was not interested, I was to push 5.
This particular call is one of many student loan scam calls making the rounds.
Red Flags: The Signs the “Department of Education” Didn’t Actually Call
Even though the recording only lasted about 15 seconds, there were several red flags that indicated to me that this was a scam.
The Department of Education made the call – The Department of Education does not directly service student loans. Companies like Navient, Great Lakes, Nelnet, and MyFedLoan get massive government contracts to manage federal student loans. There is no reason for the Department of Education to make the call directly. Anyone pretending to be the Department of Education clearly has bad intentions.
They didn’t use my name – If you are being called about your student loans, the person (or robot) calling you should know your name. If they don’t even know your name, how are they calling with information about your student loans?
Press 5 if you are not interested – This is a common telemarketing scam trick. Even if the person dialed isn’t going to fall for the scam, having them hit a button to indicate that they are not interested means there is a human associated with the dialed phone number. Lists of in-use phone numbers are often sold, and hitting any button to answer any question is a good way to end up on one of these lists.
Even though the recording sounded somewhat official and sounded like it applied to my student debt situation, it was definitely not legitimate. Don’t make the assumption that just because someone is calling about your student loans, they must be legitimate. Over 40 million Americans have student debt. With a population of just over 300 million, it means well over 10% of random Americans called will have student loans.
Moving Past Scams and Getting Real Student Loan Help
If you are having problems with your student loans, don’t waste your time or money on someone who randomly calls you. The vast majority of student loan issues can be resolved by simply contacting your student loan servicer.
Even though the student loan servicers are often guilty of lousy performance, they remain the best and only way to enroll in many federal student loan programs. These programs, such as income-driven repayment and student loan forgiveness, are your right as a borrower and there is no reason to pay anyone to assist you. The real Department of Education has a nice list of the services that are provided for free for all student loan borrowers.
If you are suspicious about a call or a company, be sure to check out our tips on avoiding student loan scams. If you think you may have fallen for a scam, learn how to prevent scammers from causing further damage.