FBI El Paso Warns the Public About Potential Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Fraud Schemes — FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation

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Scammers May Try to Solicit Financial Information, Payments, or PII from Potential Victims Seeking Federal Student Loan Forgiveness
EL PASO, TX—The FBI El Paso Field Office is warning the public of the potential for criminal actors to defraud individuals seeking federal student loan forgiveness. Scammers will aim to solicit personally identifiable information, financial information, or payment from potential victims using fraudulent websites, emails, texts, or phone scams.
“Scammers will constantly use their effective scam scenarios and tweak them to take advantage of a current situation affecting the community at large. The FBI typically sees this behavior when any new government aid program becomes available,” said Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey R. Downey. “The FBI is providing information to the public now to help people recognize the warning signs of potentially fraudulent activity related to the forgiveness of federal student loans. Don’t let a scammer trick you into revealing personally identifiable information or providing any type of payment. The U.S. government will not charge any type of processing fees or require any type of payment to have your federal student loans forgiven.”
Student Loan Forgiveness Program Background
On August 24, 2022, the Student Loan Debt Relief Plan was announced for individuals with incomes below $125,000, or joint filers with incomes below $250,000. Under the plan, the U.S. Department of Education will provide targeted student debt cancellation to borrowers with loans held by the U.S. Department of Education. The loan forgiveness will provide up to $20,000 of debt cancellation for Pell Grant recipients, and up to $10,000 for non-Pell Grant recipients. For more information on debt cancelation, eligibility, and other specifics of the program, please visit: https://studentaid.gov.
Anticipated Fraudulent Activity
Cybercriminals and fraudsters may claim to help individuals into the Federal Student Loan Forgiveness program, contacting potential victims via phone, email, mail, text, websites, or other online chat services. Cybercriminals and fraudsters use their schemes to receive payment for services they will not provide or collect victim information they can then use to facilitate a variety of other crimes.
Entrance into or assistance with any federal student aid program through the Department of Education or their trusted partners never requires any type of payment.
Scammers often use electronic (email, text, website) communication methods to explain how a recipient qualifies for government aid and claim to need information or money from the victim to complete the application process. They may email or text the victim, with a body of text containing a link to follow. Once a victim clicks on what is thought to be a legitimate link to the official federal website, the website will request personally identifiable information (PII) such as name, social security number, date of birth, current and previous addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, mother’s maiden name, or social media handles to complete the process. This PII can be used to conduct additional fraudulent activity at the victim’s expense.
Websites may solicit financial information such as bank account and routing numbers, credit or debit card numbers, digital wallet addresses, or other peer-to-peer money service transfer account information to process an application fee or complete the application process.
Phone scammers may call victims claiming to be representatives of a bank or the Department of Education and ask for the victim’s PII and financial information to begin the application process for loan repayment.
Tips to Protect Yourself
If You Are a Victim
If you are a victim of an Internet scam, the FBI recommends taking the following actions:
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