Conn. (WTNH) — Consumers across the country are getting calls like this: “I’m actually just doing a follow-up call for you regarding your public student loan.”
Or: “I do see here that we still have your prequalified for the student loan forgiveness program.”
Charisma Jennings of Yonkers, New York said she also got a call promising relief.
“They called me on a 1-800 number saying they wanted to get me a part of the loan forgiveness program because they knew that I was a teacher,” Jennings said.
She said the company, Amerifed DocPrep, offered to help her apply for federal loan relief services. She calculated that she would save $46,000. After receiving her social security number and student loan account information, Jennings signed a contract for Amerifed to help her apply for federal student loan relief.
Through the contract, she agreed to pay the nearly $800 fee to a third-party company plus $39.99 a month, even though the contract said Jennings would not be charged any fee until her loan was consolidated or the company delivered “a successful extension or resolution or relief to [her] student loan needs.”
“I thought it was a great deal,” Jennings said.
Then, came the notice that her upcoming student loan payment was due. Jennings learned no paperwork had been filed for her to apply for the federal student loan relief program and she was out $1300.
“I was devastated,” Jennings said.
Richard Cordray noted that a main issue with student loan debt is that the bad actors know that money is owed, creating a financial relationship.
“They try to get between us and the borrower,” Cordray said. “They’re going to end up taking money that should have gone toward repayment.”
More than 43 million people have an average of $37,000 in student loan debt. Law enforcement agencies across the country have been issuing warnings about potential student loan rip-offs.
“You’re going to be out some money and you won’t realize it until it’s too late,” Cordray said. “The other risk is you’re going to give somebody your credentials. Your precious information, your passwords, things like that. And they will misuse those.”