The 40 million Americans want to shed Law enforcement officials are warning that their student debt is being targeted by scammers who call, text and email people with fraudulent offers of help.

Criminals often adapt old scams to capitalize on current events, in this case using the Biden administration’s program to forgive up to $20,000 in student debt per borrower.

“The FBI typically notices this type of behavior when a new government assistance program becomes available,” Jeffrey Downey, special agent in charge of the agency’s El Paso, Texas, field office, said in a statement alerting the public this week.

According to the FBI, joined by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, scammers who claim to be able to direct people through the Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Program are using the scheme to get money for services they don’t provide or to collect personal information for other crimes. sending an alert.

The would-be scammers behind the calls may also claim to represent a bank or the US Department of Education. They then usually ask for personal information to supposedly start the loan application process.

Scammers also send email or text links from what appears to be an official government website, which then requests personal information such as the person’s name, social security number and date of birth.

Important things to remember to avoid being affected, officials say:

  • There is never a fee to access or receive aid under any federal student aid program through the Department of Education or its partners.
  • Authorities also warn against providing identifying information to Federal Student Aid (FSA), saying the request is fraudulent and is used to stop contact between a borrower and a servicer and to steal a person’s identity.
  • Borrowers are advised to be aware of the risks before refinancing their student loans, as those who qualify for debt relief and take out private loans will lose out on what the government is offering, officials to say.

Regulators are already busy with student loan relief fraud. Criminals have long used real-world but difficult-to-navigate government programs to trick people into paying illegal fees or handing over personal information. The Federal Trade Commission in August said he mailed more than $822,000 in restitution to borrowers defrauded in one illegal debt relief scheme.

People can apply once debt relief until December 31, 2023, although for now a The court order is currently blocked the Biden administration from granting loans.