Scammers target student borrowers awaiting forgiveness applications

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – “I’m following up on your outstanding student loan balance.”

That’s what a stranger told Lincoln’s Kristi Cadenbach in a voicemail message earlier this fall.

“He made it look like I had to call him back because of recent events, student loans being canceled by the president,” Cadenbach said.

That’s why she emailed 10/11 because even though she acknowledged it was probably a scam, she was worried that others might not.

Better Business Bureau spokesman Josh Planos said student loan forgiveness scams are common right now as people eagerly await more information about student loan forgiveness.

“Anytime there’s confusion, it’s the perfect breeding ground for a number of scams,” Planos said.

More than 230,000 Nebraskans are eligible for loan forgiveness of up to $10,000, including about 136,000 who are eligible for double that because they are Pell Grant recipients.

This leaves hundreds of thousands of people vulnerable.

Planos presented some red flags:

First, if the caller or sender contacts you first.

“When you go out blue phone calls, emails, texts, pretending to be government, hang up the phone, don’t respond to that message,” Planos said. “The government will never contact you using this method unless you give permission.”

Second, they will put the victim in a high pressure situation like what the caller said in the phone call Cadenbach received.

“It is urgent that I speak to you as soon as possible before these programs change,” the caller said.

Third, never pay a processing fee or application fee to apply for a government program.

Finally, seek information from verified sources, such as websites that end in .gov or links found on the Better Business Bureau website.

Cadenbach said she hopes this information will prevent scammers from getting away with this kind of behavior.

“When people are in debt, they just get exploited more and it can keep going into more debt,” Planos said. “It’s just sad and frustrating.”

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