Scammers use Biden's student loan forgiveness program to steal information

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone via WLS logo
Friday, September 9, 2022
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Scammers are using President Biden's student loan forgiveness program to try to get people to give them personal information.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Calls and voicemails claim to help people qualify for President Biden's student loan forgiveness program, but they're coming from scammers instead.

The program offers some borrowers up to $20,000 in student loan debt canceled. The U.S. Department of Education said loan forgiveness could happen automatically, or you will soon be able to apply on the agency's website. So why are people getting suspicious calls, claiming to help get the debt cleared?

One voicemail left on an ABC7 employee's phone said, "I'm just giving you a call in regards to your student loans. I do have you pre-qualified here for repayment options. It looks like for possible loan discharge or the forgiveness program. It is just imperative that we go over the details as soon as possible, just before your status expires, but I will keep it in a pending status for now."

READ MORE: Biden unveils federal student loan forgiveness plan, extend repayment pause

Another, similar voicemail said in part, "it looks like for the forgiveness program, and complete loan discharge or partial loan discharge, it is imperative that we go over the details as soon as possible."

The callers left different callback numbers, but when returned the I-Team was routed to the same call center with a recorded greeting that said, "The Biden administration announced a debt forgiveness plan for all federal student loans."

When asked why you would need to use their company to get your loans forgiven, the call center representative hung up. It also happened several times when I-Team reporter Jason Knowles identified himself as a reporter with ABC7 in Chicago. Only one representative agreed to be recorded.

RELATED: What Biden's student debt plan will do to the US economy, inflation

When asked why someone would need their services, they replied, "The department of education offered these programs. They know that there are a lot of people out there trying to qualify. It won't do the Department of Education any good if everybody goes to the Department of Education at the same time."

The representative said he could help people qualify for loan forgiveness and make the process go faster. He also said he was offering a loan consolidation service for a fee.

But you don't need anyone's help to enter the government's forgiveness program. The Department of Education said you either qualify automatically or you file an application when the process opens up in the fall.

In a general alert about calls, The Federal Trade Commission said scammers are capitalizing on the popularity of the forgiveness program, and that no third party can guarantee eligibility or help you speed up the process.

The consumer cybersecurity company Aura said if you get a call out of the blue, it's likely someone trying to get your personal information.

"And of course, you'll be super excited you want your $10,000. And in order to help you with that process, they'll ask for personal information, your bank account information, your social security number, your credit card numbers, and a whole bunch of other interesting stuff that most of which is irrelevant to this case," said Zulfikar Ramzan of Aura.

The Better Business Bureau also has reports of similar calls and voicemails, but it wants people to know they should ignore them.

You can find out if you qualify for student loan forgiveness and get updates from the department of education by clicking here.