How to stay protected from lurking student loan scammers

The Biden administration announced last Wednesday that it would forgive up to $20,000 in undergraduate student loans.

Some borrowers have already seen their accounts updated, but others will have to apply for the benefit in October.

However, that amount may not settle everyone’s accounts, and scammers may be on the prowl promising to help eliminate any remaining debt.

Pay no fees up front

It’s illegal for student debt relief companies to charge you before administering a service, says the Federal Trade Commission.

Don’t sign up for fast loan forgiveness

Anyone who guarantees your eligibility for student loan forgiveness or promises that you can get your loans forgiven faster than the deadline set by the Department of Education is a scammer.

Don’t always trust a Department of Education logo

Scammers may use logos, names, and seals to convince you of their legitimacy. But if you have questions about your federal loans, visit the Department of Education’s official financial website at

Do not rush to make a decision

Scammers often make supposedly time-sensitive requests, such as missing a deadline to qualify for payment plans, loan forgiveness programs, or federal loan consolidations, in an effort to get you to act quickly.

Never share your Federal Student Aid ID

Fraudsters may ask for your FSA ID in an effort to steal your identity, but you should never share your account credentials.

How to get your money back if you paid a scammer

Scammers may encourage you to pay them in ways that make it difficult to get your money back, but there are steps you can take depending on the payment method you used.

  • Debit or credit card: contact your bank and report a fraudulent charge. Ask them to reverse the charge and refund your money.
  • Bank account transfer: If a scammer made a transfer from your bank account, report it to your bank.
  • Cash: If you sent cash through the mail, contact the US Postal Inspection Service (877-876-2455) and see if they can intercept the package. If you used a different mail service, please contact that company as soon as possible.
  • Gift Card – Contact the business that issued the gift card, report the fraudulent activity, and request a refund. Save the gift card and gift card receipt if possible.
  • Wire transfer (ie MoneyGram or Western Union): Contact the company.
  • Money Transfer App (i.e. Venmo or Cash App) – Contact that business to see if they will issue a refund. If the account is linked to your bank account, call your bank as well.
  • Cryptocurrency: These payments are usually irreversible. The recipient would have to be willing to return your money. However, it is still worth trying to contact the cryptocurrency company.
  • How to report a scam

    You can report scams to the FTC at or to your state attorney general.

    What if my devices and personal information are compromised?

    If you gave the scammer personal information, like your Social Security number, visit If you shared login information, update your passwords with a strong combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

    If a scammer has access to your computer, update your device’s security software, run a scan, and delete any files that might give away too much information.

    If your cell phone is compromised, contact your carrier and check your bank statements for any unauthorized transactions.

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