By Chip Kohlweiler & Caroline Currie: Dec. 7, 2022.
It’s no secret that pursuing a college degree is a major financial decision for students and their parents. At the same time, college is also a great experience and investment for many students—with a positive impact on their lives during school and post-graduation.
You may be just beginning your journey to explore colleges, preparing for federal loan payments to resume next year or in the midst of securing funds for the spring 2023 academic semester. In light of this time, we wanted to share a few tips with you to help steer clear of the scammers.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Phishers
First, be skeptical of emails, text messages or phone calls claiming to represent your student loan servicer.
Whether through email, text message or phone, phishing is one of the most common ways cybercriminals gain access to your confidential personal information. They may even use copycat websites to pose as a legitimate lender.
Scammers are preying on people’s confusion and are offering to apply for a new student loan or student loan cancellation on behalf of their victims. If the message seems too good to be true, or you don’t recognize the caller, it probably isn’t real. The best thing you can do is not respond, not click on any links and not open any attachments.
If you think you’re the victim of a student loan scam, contact your student loan servicer and financial institution as soon as possible to report it and ensure no unauthorized transactions have occurred on your accounts. You can also file complaints with the Department of Education and the Federal Trade Commission.
If It Seems Too Good to Be True, It Is
Second, never make a payment upfront for assistance with your student loans.
Because the student loan repayment process in general can sometimes be complicated, scammers take advantage of this confusion to trick you into giving up your credit card number or bank account details. Keep in mind—anyone who promises immediate approval, forgiveness, assistance with making payments or full loan cancellation in exchange for money is a scammer.
If you have federal student loans and are eligible for one of the federal student loan forgiveness options, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s official website, StudentAid.gov, for the most up-to-date information.
Stay Patient and Do Your Due Diligence
Finally, take your time and do your research.
Scammers will oftentimes pressure you to act quickly to avoid missing a key deadline or new program offer. Rushing into a decision about your financing options is never a good idea. So, always take time to do your research.
Contact your loan servicer, school’s financial aid office or the Department of Education through their official contact methods if you have questions. They’re most equipped to support you.
Chip Kohlweiler is the senior vice president of security at Navy Federal Credit Union.
Caroline Currie is the assistant vice president of education lending at Navy Federal Credit Union.
This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.