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BBB gives advice regarding federal student loan cancellation

BUFFALO — The Biden Administration’s recent announcement the federal government will cancel up to $20,000 of federal student loans per person is prompting the Better Business Bureau to warn of possible scams.

As student loan holders navigate the new forgiveness program, con artists will undoubtedly be there to take advantage of any confusion. It happens with any big government initiative, including the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, eviction moratorium, and pandemic relief programs.

Tips to avoid student loan forgiveness scams include:

¯ Get to know the terms of a student loan and the relief program before acting. Always do research before sharing personal information. Be sure to understand the ins and outs of each specific loan and how student loan relief impacts the borrower. For information, go to official government websites, such as ED.gov and studentaid.gov.

Never pay money for a free government program. Scammers often trick victims into paying for free government programs or they claim additional benefits are available. A real government agency will not ask for an advanced processing fee. These are all red flags of a scam.

Be wary of out-of-the-blue calls, emails or text messages claiming to be from the government. Generally, the government will not contact people using such methods unless someone grants permission.

Watch out for phony government agencies or programs. Those who speak to someone claiming to be a government representative offering student loan relief, research before agreeing to anything. Scammers often make up look-alike government websites that sound similar to legitimate agencies or programs.

Think something seems suspicious? Reach out to the agency directly. Those concerned about an alleged government representative’s legitimacy, hang up the phone or stop emailing/texting. Then, report suspicious calls or messages.

Be careful, even if the information comes from a friend. Even if a close friend or family member can unwittingly send false information. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Better Business Bureau officials received many reports of hacked social media accounts being used to spread government impostor scams.

Those who have spotted a student loan forgiveness scam can report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker.

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