President Joe Biden announced the much-anticipated administration’s plan for student loan forgiveness on Aug. 24. and the online application will soon be available. However, the administration is now warning borrowers to be aware of potential scams and announced it has launched a “whole-of-government effort.”
The student debt relief initiative could benefit as many as 40 million Americans, the White House said in a statement, adding that it is taking “ongoing and expanded efforts across the Administration to combat scams and misinformation, including educating borrowers about how to protect themselves against scams and accelerating efforts to share scam complaints with states.”
In turn, the administration said it was “developing a clear, simple, and secure site for borrowers to apply for debt relief” and announced it was taking new action to go after scammers in individual states. In addition, it said it will launch a social media campaign and released a “do’s and don’ts” list to help borrowers avoid scams.
Here is what the administration and the Department of Education recommend you don’t do:
- Don’t pay anyone who contacts you with promises of debt relief or loan forgiveness, as “the application will be free and easy to use when it opens in October.”
- Don’t reveal your FSA ID or account information or password to anyone who contacts you.
- Don’t ever give personal or financial information to an unfamiliar caller.
Another critical point is not to refinance your federal student loans unless you know the risks.
“If you refinance federal student loans that are eligible for debt relief into a private loan, you will lose out on important benefits like one-time debt relief and flexible repayment plans for federal loans,” the Department of Education warns.
There are actions you can take to protect yourself. Here’s what you should do.
Sign up at www.ed.gov/subscriptions to be notified when the Student Loan Debt Relief application becomes available. Then, create an FSA ID at StudentAid.gov.
“You will not need it for the debt relief application but having an FSA ID can allow you to easily access accurate information on your loan and make sure FSA can contact you directly, helping you equip yourself against scammers trying to contact you,” according to the Department of Education.
In addition, make sure your loan servicer has your most current contact information. And finally, report scammers to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by visiting reportfraud.ftc.gov.
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The White House also said that as part of this “whole-of-government effort,” it will meet on Oct. 7 with senior leaders from the Department of Education, the FTC, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “to discuss the agencies’ plans for aggressive and comprehensive scam prevention and enforcement strategies,” according to the statement.
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