We’ve seen them popping up all over the Internet and we’re definitely not happy about it. Sites are promising students with college loan debt, loan forgiveness and complete debt relief. This all sounds great to a student who may be thousands of dollars in debt. However, what these sites are not telling students is that they are charging them hundreds of dollars to fill out government forms that the students can complete for free. Often times it is paperwork to lower monthly payments or to consolidate loans that will lower the student’s monthly payments—not to forgive student loan debt.
These sites have been using Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, to drive traffic to their pages. They use the name of schools in their post to get users to click to their site.
In March, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) put in a request to have a federal district court make a final judgement that would shut down a student debt relief scheme. With a ruling in place, this will set a precedent for other similar sites who are operating under the same process.
Here are a few actions you can take to ensure your students and alumni don’t get targeted:
- Make sure students are familiar with any loans they are taking out for their education.
- Create documents to inform students of their options when it comes to loan repayment.
- Create an e-mail account where students can ask questions about loan forgiveness, debt relief, loan repayment and consolidation.
- Utilize Social Media
- Post helpful tips for students and alumni to be able to identify sites that may be scamming them.
- Post links to legitimate resources for students to get the information and help they need.
Resources for students and alumni:
Student Loan Repayment – https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans
Student Loan Consolidation – https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/consolidation
Student Loan Forgiveness Programs – https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service
The CFPB has identified student loan servicing as one of its priorities over the next two years. Don’t wait to put a plan in place that monitors your online marketing and ensure your institution is not being misrepresented by unauthorized marketers. Additionally, by being proactive and educating your students you can help minimize the impact of these “debt relief” scams.