SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is issuing a new warning about student loan scams.
Unfortunately, scams are popping up in the aftermath of the exciting recent changes to federal student loan programs, like the White House’s recent announcement on loan forgiveness, the federal student loan payment pause that ends December 31, 2022, and the limited waiver opportunity for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
To stay safe, here are some important tips: Oregonians should ignore phone calls, emails, social media messages, and other unsolicited messages from anyone claiming that they can help you get your student loans forgiven faster or telling you that you should refinance your loan. Don’t accept these unexpected offers without checking first to see if the offer is legitimate. The chances are it is not!
Scammers may use phrases such as a “pre-enrollment for all loan forgiveness” or “you must apply within the next 24 hours.” Don’t fall for it!
“You don’t need to pay anybody to sign up for the new loan forgiveness program — or the payment pause. Nobody can get you in early, help you jump the line, or guarantee eligibility. Anybody who says they can or tries to charge you money, is a scammer,” said Rosenblum.
The average Oregon student borrower owes over $36,091 by the time they graduate. Combined, Oregonians have more than $18.9 billion dollars in student loan debt.
As to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program alone, more than 3,500 Oregonians have had their balances forgiven. With numbers this large, it is easy to understand how student debt can turn into the obligation of a lifetime — and become an attractive matter for scammers to exploit.
“One of the worst parts of this type of scam is that it scares people away from applying for the forgiveness or cancelation that they are entitled to.” said Oregon’s Student Loan Ombuds Lane Thompson.
A few more tips: If you have outstanding student loans, it’s a good idea to check in with your federal loan servicer: be sure you know who they are, and that they have your most recent contact info. Sign up for Department of Education updates to be notified when the process for the newly announced loan forgiveness has officially opened. That will help you get the latest on the cancellation and pause. And, when it does come time to apply for loan forgiveness or PSLF, remember all government websites end in ".gov."
If you have fallen victim to a student loan scam, you can file a complaint online at www.oregonconsumer.gov or call the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1-877-877-9392 and ask that a complaint form be mailed to you.
You can also learn more about student debt, or file a complaint against a student loan servicer on the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, Division of Financial Regulation’s student loan website or by calling 1-888-877-4894.