Montanans: Protect Yourself From College Loan Scammers
In the wake of the Student Debt Relief Plan that was announced by the Biden administration in August 2022, it's yet another opportunity for hucksters and scam artists to weasel Montanans out of their money through fraud in the guise of help.
Phone scams, email scams, even comments in your social media posts aren't anything new...scammers target anyone and anybody they can to get money for nefarious purposes. Anyone remember the Nigerian price emails? Hope you didn't fall for those either.
NEVER Give Personal Information To Anyone Over The Phone
A common trick scammers will use is saying they're from the FBI, IRS, Social Security Administration, Department of Education, etc. The following is a list of government agencies which will NEVER call you to provide or confirm personally identifiable information, along with links to their official policies:
- The IRS
- Social Security Administration
- The Department of Education
- FAFSA (which is an application form, not an agency. Big red flag if the caller says they're from FAFSA.)
How Student Debt Relief Applications Work
For details on who is available to receive aid under the Student Debt Relief Plan and to begin applying, please visit studentaid.gov, which will also never call you to confirm personal information. Applicants must sign up to receive aid by November 1st, 2022 to be eligible for the plan, which will forgive up to $20,000 of student loans for qualified applicants.
University of Montana
Townsquare Media spoke with Andrea Janssen with the University of Montana Financial Education Department, who has advised numerous concerned students about their suspicious calls from people saying they're connected to the university or student advocacy groups in attempts to get money out of them:
If University of Montana students have questions about student debt relief, they should contact the Financial Education Department directly. We will not contact you over the phone and ask for confidential information or ask you to send money over the phone.
UM Financial Education Program Director Julie Heaton, Program Coordinator Andrea Janssen
Unfortunately for Montanans, students and citizens alike, scam artists and their plots to relieve you of your money aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Need to reset your password? Do it online. Have a question about your student loans? Email the university or the bank that provided them. And if anyone you don't know asks you to send them gift cards or wire money to them immediately, it's a huge red flag.
If you've received a suspicious phone call regarding student loans, you can file a report with the Office of Consumer Protection at the Montana Department of Justice HERE.
Don't be the next scam victim in Montana. Stay safe.