One of the latest student loan related schemes involves borrowers getting a text message that appears to be from their lender or about their student loan. One such text reads, “Your Student Loans have been Flagged for Forgiveness through the D.O.E. Call right away.” The number associated is not a valid lender or Department of Education number. A similar scam text reads: “Student Alert: Your loans are now pre-qualified for student loan forgiveness.” Similarly, the phone number is not associated with a lender or the Department of Education.
This scheme is somewhat harder to detect because a text message may seem more legitimate than a vague call about your student loans. Additionally, scams via text seem to be a newer approach, meaning not all consumers will expect this issue.
It is also easy for scammers to send out a ton of these. Unlike actual phone calls, they can send out many texts at the same time and they don’t have to worry about an accent drawing attention to the fact that they are not contacting your from your student loan servicer.
We have seen consumer alerts on scams of this nature from banks as well. This past week my bank homepage has warned customers that bank policy is to not contact people via text message.
Preventing this Scam
For starters, most lenders don’t conduct business via text message. If they do, it is likely to be a simple notice, such as saying that your most recent payment posted. Sending out any personal information in response to a text message is likely a huge mistake.
The best protection against any student loan scam is to initiate contact with your lender in response to any call or text message. If you think there is even a slight possibility that the text or call you received is not legitimate, do not respond to it. Instead, go online to your lender’s website and call the number listed. Explain to the customer service representative the text you just received and they will be able to tell you if it is valid or not.
Mistakes Not to Make
The worst thing you could do would be to call in response to one of these texts. However, that is not the only mistake that can be made.
Even texting “Stop” to get them to leave you alone is a bad move. By texting stop, you give the scammers two important pieces of information. First, they know the number they texted is a valid phone number with an active subscriber. Second, by texting stop, you are letting them know that you are capable of sending and receiving text messages. Just ignoring the message is the best response.
It is also worth noting that just being on the national do not call registry is enough to prevent telemarketers and scammers from contacting you. Being on this list may be a pro-active measure, but it doesn’t ensure that you will not be the target of these scams.