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A lot of us have student loans – and some of us have trouble paying them every month. Some companies claim to resolve that issue by saying they can help you pay them down quicker, cheaper or get them forgiven altogether. Be cautious – some of these companies are running scams.

Here are some tips to avoid student loan repayment scams:

  • Never pay an upfront fee. It’s illegal for companies to charge you in advance before helping you to reduce or get rid of your student loan debt.  Companies that make you pay upfront might give you no help and not give your money back.  
  • Only scammers promise fast loan forgiveness. Before they know your situation, scammers might say they can quickly get rid of your loans through a loan forgiveness program. But they can’t.
  • A Department of Education seal doesn’t mean it’s legit. Scammers use official-looking names and logos and say they have special access to certain federal programs. They don’t.
  • Don’t share your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID with anyone. Scammers could use it to take control of your personal financial aid information on U.S. Department of Education websites.

Last month, the FTC announced a lawsuit against American Financial Benefits Center (AFBC), Financial Education Benefits Center (FEBC), AmeriTech Financial, and Brandon Demond Frere as part of its crackdown against unlawful student loan debt relief practices, Operation Game of Loans. The FTC alleges that the companies charged illegal, upfront fees and failed to deliver on their promises to enroll people into a government program that they claimed would permanently lower monthly loan payments or result in total loan forgiveness.

The FTC also alleges the companies charged a monthly fee for the life of the loan (typically 10-25 years) and represented that the fee would go towards the student loan balance. But it didn’t.

You don’t have to pay for help with your student loans. There’s nothing a company can do for you that you cannot do yourself for free: federal borrowers can start with StudentAid.gov/repay; private borrowers can start by talking with their loan servicer.

Spotted a scam? Let us know about it.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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