Remember the old saying, “If something is too good to be true, it probably is.” That applies to the NEW Student Loan Assistance Program (SLAP).
This scam is successful because it fills a real need people have – trying to find a way to repay student loans. They are so desperate to save money on student loan repayment that they are willing to believe in something that looks as if it may be real.
More About SLAP
A person gets a letter and an official-looking check in the mail. The recipient is led to believe the check is from the federal government. You’ll see on the check a street address of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C., which is the street that connects the Capitol to the White House. To top it all off, the checks are also printed with the words, United States of America.
You’ll be informed your status has been approved and that there is limited availability on the money you’ve received. You’re urged to call a number to cement your new windfall.
The whole thing looks official and even has a spot for you to endorse your new check. But if you take a close look – extremely close, because it’s in super small print – you’ll be informed the check is not a real one.
That’s when you start noticing other peculiarities on the check if you look hard enough. You’ll see that above the amount the check appears to be for, it says the words “savings amount.”
On the pay stub portion of the check, you’ll see an invitation to join the NEW Student Loan Assistance Program. You’re urged to call to learn about your eligibility for one of four programs before you make any more payments to your real student loan provider. It promises to save you thousands of dollars on your student loans despite the fact this company doesn’t know how much money you owe.
Those who need further proof this is a scam can check out the Better Business Bureau. It’s not BBB accredited and it gets an F-rating from the BBB.
Similar Scams to Be Aware Of
Student loan scams are commonplace. Here are some others that recently made headlines:
- Brandon Frere, the chief executive of Ameritech and two other student debt relief companies, recently had a criminal complaint filed against him for trying to take out money kept in escrow by his customers and transferring millions from the company to his own bank accounts. The money which was collected in four years from student loan borrowers totaled $28 million. Many borrowers never received the help they were looking for at lowering their debts, despite sending payments.
- Two companies headquartered in Florida, Student Debt Doctor and American Student Loan Consolidators, reached settlements in court regarding their deceptive student loan practices. ASLC allegedly tricked student loan borrowers into paying illegal fees – as much as $899 – because they believed the money was being used to pay off student loans.
- National Student Aid Care allegedly cheated Lindsey Thompson of East Tennessee out of multiple student loan payments. The company claimed they could lower her payment by $50 a month and claimed to be a branch of her loan company, Great Lakes Student Loans. However, the payments Thompson sent National Student Aid Care never were forwarded to Great Lakes, a highly-regarded company.
How to Make Sure You’re Dealing with a Legitimate Program
There are many companies out there who will legitimately help you find a way to stay on track with your student loan payments. There is no need to wait to be contacted by a possibly shady company in the mail or by phone to begin helping yourself with your debts.
- Studentloans.gov has lots of tools and resources online to check out.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau lets you lodge complaints against companies you believe to be shady. They also give impartial answers to your financial questions.
- You may also find information and support at the National Consumer Law Center.
Before you fall for a scam, ask yourself a few questions:
- Do they claim to work with the Department of Education? If so, make a call to the real entity and check for yourself.
- Did they use a robo-dialer? If you had to press a number on your phone to be connected, don’t do business with them.
- Are they telling you to stop paying your student loans? Don’t listen to them and look for another alternative.
>> Read More: How to Avoid Student Loan Forgiveness Scams