Without question, technology today continues to improve many aspects of our lives.
Think about the productivity boost that smartphone technology can afford, for example. Or the ease of ordering movie theatre tickets online.
Technology and access to data, however, have also opened our world to a growing number of increasingly creative scams and theft. Criminals now know things about us they could never access before, such as our interests, family members’ names and even our debts. This information allows criminals to attack us in more personal ways. Their approaches and pitches give the impression of legitimacy and professionalism, making them appear authentic and believable.
Unfortunately, the area of student loan debt relief is not immune to these modern truths. Any place where criminals think they can access sensitive information or solicit a financial contribution, they will be lurking and sounding official, as if they work for a reputable organization.
Here are four ways to spot a scam as it pertains to helping with student loan debt:
- They will ask for payment upfront. Reputable student loan debt relief will always provide an analysis of what can be saved, by qualifying for Federal programs or refinancing, before asking for payment. It is difficult to navigate the Federal programs offered at studentloans.gov. In 2018, less than 220 of more than 41,000 applicants were approved for one Federal program; however, no company should ever ask for money to find out how you might qualify for loan relief.
- High-pressure sales tactics. No one wants to be “sold” something! If a company is not consultative and uses high-pressure techniques to solicit your selection of their services, it could be a scam. You should always have time to make informed decisions about how to handle any debt, even student loan debt. Debt sometimes is accompanied with desperation, and criminals will play on those fears. If it feels unprofessional, it could be a scam. If the company is high pressure and not consultative, it could be a scam.
- They advertise on social media. The modern, reputable, student loan relief companies are being offered as an employee benefit through your employer. The employer has taken time to review the service and the company offering the service. While there are a number of legitimate student loan debt relief services promoted online, just be wary of products not available as an employee benefit.
- They are not affiliated with a reputable and verifiable national association or partner. Student loan debt is at an all-time high ($1.8 trillion), and individuals and employers are looking for solutions. Reputable professional associations are also looking for assistance to offer their members. Any student loan debt relief company that is effective and scrupulous should have no problem gaining the endorsement of professional associations. Look for trusted, industry-specific associations that have vetted the provider, for example the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) or the National Rural Educators Association (NREA) or similar for education clients. In the private sector, look to other larger companies that are using the service as a reference point.
The best advice for student loan holders wanting a company to assist in lowering monthly payments is to check to see how they have been vetted.
- Did the offer come from your employer?
- Is the provider endorsed by reputable associations?
- Did they ask for money upfront to show you how they can help?
- Did they use high-pressure sales tactics?
There are truly legitimate services, such as GotZoom, that are saving borrowers an average of 65% off their student loan payments by leveraging Federal subsidies. Follow these easy verification steps and you’ll be on the right path to student debt relief with a bona fide service.