FTC continues to crack down on student loan scams

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A lot of us have student loans – and some of us have trouble paying them every month. Some companies claim to resolve that issue by saying they can help you pay them down quicker, cheaper or get them forgiven altogether. Be cautious – some of these companies are running scams.

Here are some tips to avoid student loan repayment scams:

  • Never pay an upfront fee. It’s illegal for companies to charge you in advance before helping you to reduce or get rid of your student loan debt.  Companies that make you pay upfront might give you no help and not give your money back.  
  • Only scammers promise fast loan forgiveness. Before they know your situation, scammers might say they can quickly get rid of your loans through a loan forgiveness program. But they can’t.
  • A Department of Education seal doesn’t mean it’s legit. Scammers use official-looking names and logos and say they have special access to certain federal programs. They don’t.
  • Don’t share your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID with anyone. Scammers could use it to take control of your personal financial aid information on U.S. Department of Education websites.

Last month, the FTC announced a lawsuit against American Financial Benefits Center (AFBC), Financial Education Benefits Center (FEBC), AmeriTech Financial, and Brandon Demond Frere as part of its crackdown against unlawful student loan debt relief practices, Operation Game of Loans. The FTC alleges that the companies charged illegal, upfront fees and failed to deliver on their promises to enroll people into a government program that they claimed would permanently lower monthly loan payments or result in total loan forgiveness.

The FTC also alleges the companies charged a monthly fee for the life of the loan (typically 10-25 years) and represented that the fee would go towards the student loan balance. But it didn’t.

You don’t have to pay for help with your student loans. There’s nothing a company can do for you that you cannot do yourself for free: federal borrowers can start with StudentAid.gov/repay; private borrowers can start by talking with their loan servicer.

Spotted a scam? Let us know about it.

Tagged with: loan, scam, student

Comments

The lawsuit is all well and good but what is to come of it for the customers that have paid thousands to these companies? Well there be any sort of restitution?

Just got a call about student loan forgiveness. The caller ID showed OR Army Natl G it had a local number. When I answered the automated voice said to press one to speak to an agent so I did and I mentioned to the woman that she called a business....she hung up on me. Does the Army National Guard do student loan forgiveness?

So is American Financial benefits center a scam? I have been paying them to do free paperwork for over 2 years now! Should i cancel? Feeling like a fool.

If the FTC wins this case against AFBC, will there be any relief to those who were scammed?

My loans were paid off years ago, and my phone number was even different then - and I'm getting calls from loan forgiveness scammers - and now they even call my business phone. I'm convinced they call people at random to steal social security numbers.

I have been getting calls from these people for weeks and multi times a day. I tell them to remove me from the list and do not contact and they even text me. They keep calling and use different numbers. I called a number back and it was someone else's cell phone...so they cloned a number now? They wont stop and now using people's numbers without them knowing? Their do not call prompt #2 doesn't work. Also it starts as a robo call.

I have been receiving texts from 67329 telling me they need my last two pay stubs and 2016 taxes to complete my student loan IDR application. They're asking me to email them at docs.@ studentservices. org. and give 2 different phone numbers: 855-878-8100 and 800-918-6698 and signing off with Chris, WBG.

These people have been harassing me on a regular basis for many months. I have no student debt so I told them to stop calling cuz I’m on the Do Not Call list. They still continue, but now they hang up after I push a button or amswer a question. Have filed many reports but still continues. When is the FBI gonna take them down? What are they waiting on?

When I get these calls I tell them I owe $655,000. I think this confounds them and they don't know what to do next. I don't have any student loans, but I figure I might as well have some fun with these scammers. I got a call this morning from a foreign accented person and when he asked my name I replied "Pan, Peter Pan". He bought that with no questions asked but his computer system wouldn't process it. He was still clueless.

Daily calls from "Federal Student Loan Advocates Group" from many different numbers. Most recently 502-878-7188. They never tell me what company they're with or where they're located. I call them back and they hang up on me. Next step is to give them fake names and fake information.

How has the FTC not cracked down on these? It can't be that hard to track these calls. Simply reach out to those who receive these calls and gather their incoming call information during the given time. What technical advancements have been made to prevent this from continuing.

You can help law enforcement by reporting the calls to the FTC at www.FTC.gov/Complaint. The information you give goes into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations.

The messages you put here on the blog don't go into the law enforcement database.

What happens when it's the actual Federal Government that's messed up your loans and you can't seem to get a response or get any answers? The CFPB and FTC won't regulate the government program per their responses to me. Who do you go to then?

Receiving over 10 a day with local numbers calling me. I send a text back that I cannot answer. Half of them I get texts back asking who is this?... they never called from their phone. How are these companies calling me and having my phone say it is a number they aren’t using?

Yeah I’ve been getting an atrocious number of calls from a non-existent firm blithely calling themselves ‘Student Help Center’. I receive calls from a wide range of voice over Internet protocol (voip) phone numbers. When my cell phone internet data is on, these calls are usually blocked by the RoboKiller app I have on my phone. However, I receive them even when the cell phone data is turned off.
I usually ignore these calls, but took the time today to smack one down.
I stayed on the line and was asked a series of questions by a woman named ‘Mary’ who wanted to know
1) did I have student loans
2) how much did I owe
3) how much do I make a month /
monthly income
4) in which state do I live

I have a bunch of bogus answers and ‘Mary’ told me I ‘pre-qualified’ for help and could be transferred over to the specialist.
I repeatedly asked for a number and website in case we got disconnected and acted increasingly frantic that I would ‘miss’ the opportunity to take these jackals up on their scam.
I acted as if I was very interested and worried that I would not be able to contact them if I got disconnected. I acted desperate.
‘Mary’ said she would transfer me and just breathed on the other end of the line. I said ‘hello, please don’t disconnect me! I need help!!!!!’
And then the scammers disconnected me.
If ‘Mary’ calls back, which I doubt, I will let her know I am reporting her to the FTC when the government opens up again.
By all means, if you have the gumption, and are biding time in a grocery line or waiting on a flight, please push back and put these scammers on the spot.
They might think twice about calling you again.
And yes, there are some good apps that fight these calls. I’m not a rep or being paid to write this, but the ‘robokiller’ App has made my phone life a lot more tolerable. This ‘Mary’ from the scam ‘Student Help Center’ keeps calling me and I report every number to the Robokiller app.
‘Mary’ needs to get a life.
Meanwhile, she should quit calling sharks like me.
Eat these people alive when they call you. Utilize an app against these criminals. I assure you, the government cannot handle all of these scammers and doesn’t have the resources to fight them all. So stand up for yourself and give these people hell when you can.
Thanks for all the great comments and stories.

I would like to know WHY i keep getting calls for a per-approved student loan. When i am 49 years old and never applied or had anything to do with student loans everrrrrrrrrr.. In the past week i have received at least 10 calls for this per-approved student loan crap.. The phone #'s that keeps showing up on caller are different and different names on them..When i try to call the phone numbers back, they are either no longer in service or can't not receive calls, always something different.. The last one that called today. I actually answered and pushed the selective number 2 to talk with someone.. When they India speaking woman answered, i asked why i was receiving these calls constantly. That i have never had nor never will have an interest in student loans or college. That i do not understand why they are calling me.. The witch hung up the phone.. The last phone# is (575)523-2808 ( Name on caller id is Jacques Amelio)..What can i do to make these calls stop???????? Ty

Since Feb 14, I've received several text messages about loan forgiveness. I know it is a scam. Most would say just ignore them. However I just think it should be reported. How are they allowed to do this without penalty. Suggestions??

Hey, this is Julia with the SaIIIeMae/NavientRelief Group. Your ACCisScheduled for fuII-4gvns. Please call 8669908068

Hi, This is Mary from Student-Advisory-Group. Your Navien(SaIlIeMaeACNThas been reset to zero. Call 8669909389

Hi, This is Karen from StudentAdvisory-Group. Your Navien(SaIIIeMae)ACNT has been reset to zero. Call 8559988190

Hey, this is Laura from StudentAdvsryBoard - YourSallIIeMae&NavientACC has been set for fuII-4gvness. Call 8778413281

Hi, This is MaryBeth from CoIIegeAdvBoard - your SalliieMa(Navient)acc has been mrked:4full4gvns. Call 8552362698

I get calls daily. I haven’t had a student loan in 20 years. I don’t owe any money. I am beyond annoyed with this scam.

Received a call allegedly form "Student Services" that left a name & reference number telling me it was vital I call them back concerning repayment option of students loans under new federal programs.
The caller identified herself as "Anna Wilson" & called from 270-533-7100. She gave me a reference number of 022551 & gave me a number of 866-572-8585 to call her back at.
Having had paid off my student loan 26 years ago I was curious so I returned the call.
It's a call center.
1st Call back I asked what company I was speaking wiht & they hung up.
2nd call back & stated I had received a call from them & that it sounded suspicious & asked for a company name. A 2nd time, THEY HUNG UP!
3rd call back I demanded to speak to the highest ranking supervisor & the individual said he wpuld try to get one for me. He then went on for several minutes trying to get all of my personal information BEFORE getting me a supervisor. II refused to give him any info. WHEN I DEMANDED TO KNOW WHAT COMPANY this individual identified the company as "Student Loan Advocate Group". Later he stated they were Advocacy Group that was not their name AND REFUSED TO TELL ME WHAT THEIR COMPANY WAS CALLED!
Finally an alleged supervisor came on. After argueing with me several minutes he said the company name is "Student Services" he then went into a lengthy thing explaining what the do as a "Student Loan Advocacy Group" -- referencing "worldwide" & "in the U.S." at least twice in that long winded spiel.
When asked if they were licensed he said "YES" he then claimed he did nto have to tell me what state they were licensed in.
He indicated they are at a "remote location".
Finally after arguing with me he said they were licensed in California as "Student Services".
The ENTIRE Interaction With "Student Services" Came Across Fishy. As Yet I Have Not Found ANY Data To Support That "Student Services" Is In Fact A Licensed Student Loan Advocacy Group In California Or Anywhere Else In The US.

I have received several calls identical to @Sharky999. The number she called from was 218-208-5954, but the callback and reference numbers were identical.

The calls started again. I have called them back. I do not nor have ever had a student loan. I have demanded 10 times to have my phone number removed from the list. The calls stop for 1 week and start up.

I receive several calls asking about my Federal Student Loan. I’ve answered on two occasions. One, I asked her what is the amount and what college did I attend for these “federal student loans” to occur. She asked how much did I owe (dah! Never got that one answered), so what college and I started naming all the Ivy Leagues. She kept asking how much I owed or how much do I think I owe. Hung up. The next time, different person. She asked me how much student loan I owe, I told her we were on a recorded line and she had reached the desk of Agent .....and I would like to speak with her manager/supervisor/director regarding this claim. She “transferred” me to guess who? Herself!!!! Really, as if I couldn’t tell she was the same woman. When I said she was running a scam and I was opening a case on her, she hung up.

I received a call message from Courtney about a student loan which I never had. her ID 1-866-761-1441, she said to call back
972 385 4655

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