How to protect yourself from student loan scammers
First and foremost, if you’re in a tight financial situation, the first (and typically only) place you need to look is your student loan servicer. For federal student loan borrowers, these are the companies assigned by the Departmet of Education to handle debt repayment, like Nelnet or FedLoan. They can help you defer your payments, or ideally, set up a lower monthly payment based on how much you’re earning.
“Borrowers have the right to income-based repayment plans,” Suskind says. “If you need help with affordable repayments, reach out to your servicer and ask for help.”
For borrowers expecting a total and permanent disability discharge or who are in the process of having their student loans forgiven through PSLF, it is especially important to double-check with your servicer that the information you’ve received is legitimate.
“If a borrower hears about a way to lower their monthly loan payments or to get their debt forgiven, they should verify this information with the federal government,” Suskind says.
Additionally, another important way to protect yourself is to take the time to research and think through all of your potential options. Student loan forgiveness, consolidation and refinancing do not work the same way as a retailer’s one-day-only 50% off sale; you’re not going to lose out on a ‘good deal’ just because you took a few days to confirm that what you’re being offered is legitimate.