WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWLP)– Scammers are targeting people who are looking for student loan forgiveness options.

According to the Education Data Initiative, 43.4 million Americans owe $1.762-trillion in student loan debt. For some, the accumulating interest far exceeds the original amount borrowed.

A payment pause was implemented by the Federal Government to help eligible borrowers who were in financial crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Department of Education has extended the payment pause through August 31, 2022.

With the pause being lifted, borrowers are now waiting on the government to offer an expansive loan forgiveness program, an initiative that has not been agreed on, funded, or put into place yet.

Scams are being reported where thieves offer to help individuals get into a program or wipe out loans by disputing them. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers ways to identify a loan forgiveness scheme:

  • There are specific federal loan forgiveness programs. There are the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and the Teacher Loan Forgiveness programs, to name a few. There’s even a Public Service Loan Forgiveness limited waiver program going on right now with a deadline of October 31, 2022. If you have questions about qualifying for federal loan forgiveness, contact your loan servicer or the Department of Education directly.
  • Don’t share your FSA ID. Some scammers claim they need your FSA ID to help you, but don’t share your FSA ID with anyone. Dishonest people could use that information to get into your account and steal your identity.
  • You don’t need to pay for help. There’s nothing a company can do that you can’t do for yourself — for free. If you have questions about your loans, or how you’ll repay them after the pause ends in August, contact your loan servicer.

If you’ve been contacted via calls, texts, emails, or social media messages by someone offering student loan debt relief, or if you’re the victim of one of these scams, report it to the FTC.