More than 43 million people, including 8.8 million people aged 50 and older, have outstanding federal student loans, with the average debt burden exceeding $37,000, according to data from the federal student aid office. Students (FSA) from the US Department of Education.
At the same time, the student debt landscape is undergoing big changes, with repayments set to resume on May 1 after a pandemic moratorium of more than two years; change federal loan forgiveness options; and new payment terms for millions of borrowers as part of a shakeup of student loan servicers (companies contracted by the government to handle repayments).
Circumstances like these can lead to confusion and financial anxiety, a combination that gets high marks from scammers. They bombard borrowers with robocalls, emails, text messages and social media posts touting sketchy strategies to quickly lower monthly payments or get loan forgiveness.
Some of these schemes involve fake debt relief companies of the type that also target people who are late on mortgages, credit cards, or medical bills. Other scammers pose as student loan servicers or representatives of the US Department of Education.
The common thread is that they will request an upfront payment or ask for personal information, such as your FSA account credentials or social security number, supposedly to secure your freedom from student debt.