I’ve been hearing a lot recently about student loan forgiveness advertisements that have been circulating around the country via email and regular mail. The advertisements are sent directly to borrowers (I don’t know how they get borrower’s contact information). They claim that there are new loan forgiveness programs available, and they encourage borrowers to contact their agency immediately to help get their loans forgiven and obtain substantial savings.
This is a scam.
While I cannot verify exactly what these companies are offering, more than likely they are simply re-packaging existing government programs (such as Income-Based Repayment) and selling them as their own—and then charging borrower’s hefty user fees in the process. The National Consumer Law Center recently issued a report about these so-called “debt relief” companies, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued warnings to borrowers as well.
Be careful. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. While there are several federal student loan forgiveness programs out there, they all have their own specific legal requirements, and it typically takes years before the forgiveness benefits can be realized. Paying a random company will not speed things up, and will not make your loans go away.
This type of scam will unfortunately only become more common, given the massive and increasing levels of student loan debt and the growing ranks of troubled borrowers seeking some sort of relief. Be aware, and be smart.