INDIANAPOLIS — With so many Americans struggling to pay off student loans, and payments expected to resume in the next couple months, it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for scammers who are making empty promises about debt relief programs.
The Federal Trade Commission recently shut down three companies that were promising to help people with their student loans, taking their money, but not really helping at all.
According to the FTC, BCO Consulting, SLA Consulting and SL Finance were actually impersonating the Department of Education and were even using official government logos in their ads.
The FTC said the companies used the federal student loan pause to get people to sign up for bogus debt relief services for a fee, ultimately stealing about $12 million from unsuspecting victims.
Victims thought their payments to the companies would go toward their loan balances. However, they didn’t, and many victims ended up paying more to the scammers than they would have for their loan payments.
The general warning about these types of scams is that it is illegal for a company to ask for money upfront before they help you with your student loan debt. If somebody asks for a fee before giving you any help with your loans, they are probably a fraud.
If you have a federal student loan, you can find help at StudentAid.gov/repay. If you have a private loan, go directly to your loan servicer for free help. If you encounter a scam, the FTC asks you to report it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov