Scammers are taking advantage of student loan forgiveness, according to the FTC. Here’s how to protect yourself

President Biden this week announced a long-awaited plan to cancel student debt for millions of borrowers — and criminals will likely leverage the news to rob unsuspecting victims, the Federal Trade Commission warned Friday.

“No one can get you in early, help you cross the line, or guarantee eligibility,” said a consumer alert released by the agency. “And anyone who says they can – or tries to accuse you – is (1) a liar and (2) a crook.”

Most federal student loan borrowers will be eligible for some remission: up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients, who tend to have lower household incomes, and up to $10,000 for those who did not receive a Pell grant.

There are certain eligibility requirements. For example, borrowers’ debt must be held by the US Department of Education. Their annual incomes — according to a measure called adjusted gross income — must also be less than $125,000 or $250,000 for single and married borrowers, respectively.

Other tips for borrowers

Here are more FTC tips for student borrowers to help ensure they don’t fall victim to scams:

  • Sign up to receive updates from the Department of Education to be notified when the debt forgiveness process officially begins.
  • Know who your federal student loan manager is. Make sure it contains your most recent contact details. This will help you get the latest updates on the cancellation, as well as the pause on loan repayments through the end of 2022.
  • Never pay an upfront fee to someone who offers debt relief. It is illegal for companies to charge before helping you. You may not get any help or your money will not be refunded.
  • Don’t be in a hurry. Criminals are pushing consumers to act quickly, saying they may not be eligible for loan forgiveness and other programs if they don’t sign up right away.
  • Some scammers claim to need your Federal Student Aid ID to help you. Don’t share that; crooks can use it to break into your account and steal your identity.
  • If you spot a scam, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.