RALEIGH, N.C. -- You may qualify for student loan debt relief, but do not let scammers trick you out of your money and identity.
Phone calls, texts and emails all about your student loans being forgiven have already drastically increased. The problem is, that those communications are likely scammers trying to steal from you.
The federal government announced recently that many student loan borrowers would be able to have up to $20,000 in debt canceled. However, new policies like this always bring out scammers trying to take advantage of people navigating new waters.
People shared several voicemails they received in the last few days since it was announced the federal government would cancel federal student loans for millions of people.
One scam voicemail stated, "I wanted to follow up with you because I don't want your pre-qualified status to change, especially the qualifications for possible loan discharge."
Another voicemail claimed to be with a loan relief organization that can help you with the process.
Zulfikar Ramzan with Aura, a consumer cybersecurity company says it's getting more difficult to tell the difference between the legit companies who can help you and the scammers.
"It's so easy nowadays to photocopy the right letterhead onto a page, or to create a website that looks completely legitimate or send an email that looks professionally written," he said.
When you get a call or email out of the blue from a company you don't know, Ramzan said it's almost always scammers trying to get after your money or identity.
"In order to help you with that process, they'll ask for your personal information. Your bank account for making your social security number, your credit card numbers."
Also, don't get duped by messages to your social media accounts. Ramzan said profiles on Instagram have already been created that claim to help with student debt relief. The red flags to look for are if they have very few followers, or don't have any posts.
The Troubleshooter Takeaways to remember are when you get any communication out of the blue about student loan forgiveness don't react right away, instead take the time to research the company. Also never pay any money or give your credit card information to anyone, as you don't need to pay to qualify for this loan forgiveness.
Be leery of copycat government websites. Legit sites end in ed.gov and studentaid.gov. Remember never to give personal information like your social security number, date of birth, or driver's license number just because they ask.
"At the end of the day scammers will walk away with that information and you will not get your $10,000 through that process, and if anything, you'll probably find yourself in deeper debt as a result of it," Ramzan said.
You can find out if you qualify for student loan forgiveness here. But please note that specifics for how to get the forgiveness have not yet been released. The Biden administration claims if the US Department of Education has your income data you may be eligible automatically, if they don't an application process is expected to be launched in the coming weeks.