(WTHI) - On average, studies show American households owe thousands in student loan debt.
For many, they'll consider trying just about anything to get relief.
According to The Better Business Bureau, student debt relief scams are extremely popular. That's as people fall behind on payments during the pandemic.
It usually starts with an unsolicited phone call, or message, claiming to be from the Department of Education. During the conversation, the scammer claims to offer unrealistically low payments, or total forgiveness, on your loans.
CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana, Tim Maniscalo, says this is completely false, and it's nothing more than scammers trying to cash in on your vulnerability.
"Student debt is a real problem for some people, and that really weighs heavy on their mind," he said, "and if someone contacted them saying, 'Hey, I can really lower your payment or I can get it forgiven completely', a lot of people are going to fall for that, unfortunately."
The BBB recommends the following to protect yourself from similar scams:
- Stick to government relief programs
The government offers different options to repay your student loans. While some require specific criteria to qualify, you can see what best fits you through trusted sites, like studentaid.gov.
- Research the debt relief service
While there are many legit debt relief services, if you feel skeptical, there are resources to help you verify if the offer you're getting is real. You can research companies, through bbb.org, and read customer reviews, complaints and more information.
- Be skeptical of solicitations offering debt relief
They say, "If it's too good to be true, it probably is."
The BBB says you have to apply to debt relief programs first in order to qualify for them. If you receive an unexpected call, or message, claiming you qualify for a program, it's likely a scam.
- Don't make a hasty decision
Scammers are known to pressure victims into costly decisions. They do this using tactics, like stressing "limited time only" deals, to get you to act on the spot.
- Don't pay a middleman
The Bbb says legit debt relief services are out there, but you can also do the same work, yourself, for free.