KSL INVESTIGATES

How to stay protected from student loan forgiveness scams

Aug 30, 2022, 6:25 PM | Updated: 7:19 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — One point six trillion dollars: That’s how much federal student loan debt Americans have racked up.

When President Biden announced plans to provide debt relief for up to 43 million people, not only did it catch the attention of borrowers, it caught the ears of scam artists.

“As soon as the announcement went out, within hours, we were getting reports that were out from our customers saying that they were getting solicited with student loan type scam,” said Zulfikar Ramzan, chief scientist with Aura, a cybersecurity company that helps folks stay safe online.

One thing he said scam artists are already doing is telling people they can help them jump to the front of the line.

“You don’t want to be the person waiting at the end because it may take you years to get your check,” Ramzan said. “And all of a sudden they scare people into thinking that there’s a sense of urgency.”

How to qualify for Biden’s new student loan forgiveness plan

Ramzan said no one can get you in early. Besides, we are still weeks away from even knowing the details of how the programs will work.

“And it’s in that moment of chaos and confusion that scammers thrive. because they thrive on that misinformation, they thrive on that ability when people are confused,” he explained.

Sometimes, the scammers are snagging money; they will demand upfront fees for guaranteed access and that is illegal. But often, they are snagging identities. Ramzan warns once you share any personal information – including your federal student aid ID, you cannot pull it back.

“I’m never getting that back when it’s out there,” Ramzan said. “It can be used five, 10, 15 years from now in a way that’s quite daunting to think about.”

Ramzan said scammers might know or take lucky guesses that you have a federal student loan. If you get a call, text, email, or even a direct message on social media out of the blue from a company you’ve never heard of – it’s likely a bad guy.

The Department of Education is not going to call or text to sign you up for student debt relief. And make sure you’re not applying for help on a fake government website.

“Don’t take instructions from anybody other than an official government website and follow that path,” he said. “And if you do that, you’ll avoid many of these scammers.”

Details on whether you are eligible for federal student loan forgiveness can be found on the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website.

In many cases, borrowers will automatically qualify if the Department of Education has their income information. Otherwise, an application process is expected to go live in the next several weeks.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

KSL Investigates

Kalie Jones and Nick Hulse were allowed to bring their children home from foster care after a judge...
Daniella Rivera

‘Not sufficiently reliable’ drug tests in one child welfare case common in Utah 

A Utah judge ruled that a certain type of drug test was “not sufficiently reliable" in a couple’s legal effort to be reunified with their children, but Utah’s child welfare agency isn’t signaling any plans to stop using the tests it’s relied on increasingly over the last two years.  
21 hours ago
FILE...
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage

Get Gephardt: How cybercriminals use social engineering to get us to hand over our sensitive info

You can have the strongest password, but the bad guys know there is one weakness they can use to hack into your system - you!
2 days ago
Delric Ellington and Kael Ellington talk about a stray bullet that entered their Salt Lake City hom...
Annie Knox and Daniella Rivera, KSL TV

Amid increase in youth shooting deaths, Utah pediatricians push for tougher gun laws

The number of Utah children and teens killed by gunfire reached a record high in 2020, in part because of a spike in homicides. Two Utah pediatricians are calling on the state to pass what they see as solutions to the troubling trend.
5 days ago
Albee Bostrom and Sissy McDade turned their love of thrift store shopping into a business: Thrift H...
Matt Gephardt

Gephardt Busts Inflation: Second-hand shopping, selling surge as Utahns try to beat rising prices

Data shared with the KSL investigators shows Utahns are trying to bring in more money and reduce spending as they try to bust inflation.
5 days ago
Bry Hansen visits his son's grave in South Jordan. (Tanner Siegworth/KSL TV)...
Annie Knox and Daniella Rivera, KSL TV

The number of Utah kids and teens dying by gunfire hit a record high in 2020

The state hit a devastating milestone in 2020, recording the highest-ever number of shooting deaths among Utahns 18 and younger.
5 days ago
...
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage

Get Gephardt: What can you do if you pay someone to do work but they disappear with your money?

Imagine paying a deposit only to have them take your money and ghost you.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
How to stay protected from student loan forgiveness scams