Scammers take advantage of borrowers’ confusion and fear. The latest scam is especially dangerous because it references actual events in the news.
Congress passed multiple stimulus relief packages. The legislation included many forms of help for struggling Americans. Additionally, there has been extensive discussion about student loan forgiveness or cancellation.
Enter the scammer trying to take advantage of complicated events in the news and student loan desperation…
Sherpa Tip: I’m especially worried about this particular scam because it sounds like an actual government program recently announced by the Department of Education.
The Scam Email: Act Now for Student Loan Forgiveness from Stimulus Relief Legislation
A reader recently forwarded the following email. Fortunately, she didn’t fall for this scam. However, she thought it might be helpful to alert others who receive a similar email. Rather than including the entire email, I’ll quote a few relevant sections.
It looks like your student loan may be eligible for the recent stimulus forgiveness and relief legislation, however, your application does need to be completed. This applies to all loan statuses, including those loans in default and garnishment.
After mentioning this “new legislation,” the email creates some urgency:
We can have this applied immediately. Please be aware that these benefits come on a first come first serve basis though.
The email ends with contact info for the scammers and a strange note:
If you don’t have student debt please ignore this message.
The scammers also had the first and last name of the reader and included her name in the subject of the email. They also added a verification code, agent id, and physical address in Nevada. These items are nonsense but give an appearance of legitimacy.
The Red Flags in this Email
This particular email contains numerous red flags that should help borrowers avoid the scam.
Student Loan Stimulus Legislation
Many student loan borrowers think student loan stimulus legislation should exist. Unfortunately, it does not. If this legislation actually happened, it would be headline news and easy to verify in many different ways.
First Come First Serve Benefit
Scammers often try to create urgency. If you are told to “act now,” it should be a huge red flag. The only temporary student loan program with limited funding is the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. This particular program has been around for years.
Please Ignore This If You Don’t Have Student Debt
This particular scammer just knew names and email addresses. They targeted student loan borrowers because so many people are impacted by student debt. This is a common practice. If someone knows your name and knows that you have student loans, it does not indicate legitimacy.
A Hotmail Account Instead of a Federal Student Loan Servicer
If such a program existed, notification would almost certainly come from the Department of Education or a federal student loan servicer. A random Hotmail account means it is undoubtedly a scam.
Calling Out Scammers by Name: In the early days of this website, I identified scams by the name of the company to help borrowers. I wish I could still do this, but it just isn’t possible at this time.
Legitimate Government Stimulus and Forgiveness
This particular scam email is especially troubling because it sounds similar to an existing government program.
Last October, the Department of Education announced a Limited Waiver on Public Service Loan Forgiveness. One of the Covid-19 relief bills authorized this temporary program, but it expires on October 31, 2022. The limited waiver helps borrowers who were on the wrong repayment plan or who had ineligible loans.
If you are trying to decide whether you are looking at a scam email or an actual government program, check out the studentaid.gov detailed explanation on the limited waiver. Contact your federal loan servicer if you think you might benefit.
If you suspect you are being scammed, try to fix things right away.
Avoiding this Scam and Others Like It
Although it made it through Gmail’s spam filters, formatting issues made this email appear to be spam. Hopefully, this makes it an easy one for most people to ignore.
However, sometimes the scammers are more convincing. This particular scammer knew the name associated with the email address. Given the number of database hacks we read about in the news, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that scammers can get this information. If this scam was a little more convincing, it might have been very effective. People are desperate for student loan help, and many will act if there is even a chance it is legitimate.
For this reason, borrowers need to be on high alert for the many student loan scams out there. If you think you have been scammed, there are steps you can take to address the situation immediately.
29 thoughts on “Scam Alert: Student Loan Stimulus Forgiveness & Relief Legislation Emails”
Why didn’t you tell us what the scam is? How do they scam people? Do they get their student loan information? What can they do if they get their student loan information. If you don’t know what they do to scam people, then how do you know if it’s really a scam? How come no one goes after the scammers? It’s like they let the scammers get away with whatever they do and nothing ever happens to them. They can track them down and prosecute them. Why don’t they. I know they have all kinds of excuses, but they can do it.
These questions are all justified Paul. In the past, I’ve named names on scammers, but I’m unable to do that anymore.
If you are struggling to identify if a student loan offer is a scam, I’ve put together this collection of tips and guidance for evaluating a potential student loan scam.
As for government officials, I think they have actually gotten much better at shutting down student loan scams. Ten years ago when I started this site, there were more scams out there and the FTC and other agencies were very slow to respond. That said, they don’t — and can’t — move as fast a scammers do. When a new “company” pops up, they can’t immediately shut it down even if it looks like a scam. Tracking them down and prosecuting takes time.
If you have a question about a specific company or offer, feel free to reach out via email, and I’m happy to share my 2 cents.
We tried to reach you at your residence but did not receive a response. Your Student-Loan may be eligible for the recently passed stimulus forgiveness and relief legislation (Cares Act). However, you will need to complete your application. This applies to all loan statuses, including those in default or garnishment. Please give our dedicated eligibility line a call to have your application processed immediately. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm PST. Thank You.
I got the same email:
Hello my name is Raimondo Truss, We tried to contact you at your home and did not hear back. It looks like your Student-Loan may be eligible for the recent stimulus forgiveness and relief legislation (Cares Act), however your application does need to be completed. This applies to all loan statuses including those loans in default and garnishment. If you could please give your dedicated eligibility line a call at: 855-752-0883 and we can have this applied immediately. Please be aware that these benefits come on a first come first serve basis though. Please make sure to provide your personal validation code #10642. Our office hours are 8am-5pm (PST) Monday-Friday. Thank You, Raimondo Truss