DENVER (KDVR) — Federal student loan repayments begin in October after being paused in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Some 44 million students across the U.S. and more than 750,000 students at campuses across Colorado carry loan debt.
Colorado’s average student loan debt levels are the nation’s 16th highest, at $27.3 billion.
“Not everybody is born with money, but I think everybody deserves an education,” one student at the University of Colorado Denver campus told FOX31.
Scammers hustling student loan borrowers
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser warns that scammers are finding ways to hustle those worried about making monthly payments.
“It is an opportunity for those scammers out there to scare people,” Weiser said.
Weiser told FOX31 his office has seen a marked increase in student-targeted scams since the student loan payment pause in 2020.
“The scammers know there are lots of student borrowers out there, so they don’t know your specifics. But they do know you might be nervous about your student loan payments, and that’s what they prey on,” Weiser said.
Student loan repayment scams: The red flags
Scammers may contact students and offer fake opportunities to reduce payments, or they may pose as legitimate loan providers in an effort to obtain personal information in order to commit identity theft.
It is important to know the red flags.
“Any time someone starts asking you for personal information — social security numbers, credit cards, bank accounts — be nervous. Another red flag is pressure tactics telling you you’ve got to act right now or you’re going to lose out on an opportunity,” Weiser said.
Other red flags include the presentation of deals that just seem too good to be true. Never click on links in unsolicited emails and verify any request for information by contacting your loan company yourself.
How to protect yourself from student loan scams
Weiser encourages those with student loans to visit studentaid.gov to update their contact information, identify their loan servicer and contact their servicer to find out about their new monthly payment and potential alternatives to make repayment more affordable.
In addition to updating their account information and finding the correct servicer, borrowers who visit studentaid.gov may be able to take advantage of the new income-driven repayment plan that will offer the lowest possible monthly payment.
Additionally, the federal government is offering the Fresh Start initiative, a one-time temporary opportunity to help people get out of default and restore benefits they may have lost because of default.
Scans should be reported to stopfraudcolorado.gov.
Any student loan borrower having problems communicating with their loan provider can contact the Colorado Attorney General Office’s student loan ombudsperson and file a complaint.