LEXINGTON, Ky. — Scammers have found a target-rich environment of individuals with student debt. In honor of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, University of Kentucky Information Technology Services is bringing awareness to internet scams.
For many, adult life starts after graduating from high school, going to college, completing your degree, looking for a job, and building your career. One thing many students have in common is student loans. Consider yourself lucky if you don’t have a huge amount of debt after graduation. According to a 2018 article from CNBC, the average student owes $37,172 in student loans upon graduation. Sadly, scammers take advantage of students who desperately want to get rid of their student loans quickly.
A student loan scam could start with a phone call, an email or even a letter saying you’ve been “pre-approved” for certain programs; and, promising to help you get out of debt quicker if you agree to pay an advance fee of up to $1,500.
The “Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense Against Student Loan Debt” gives tips on handling this type of scam:
• Never pay up front for any kind of fees. The moment you pay the fee, communication with the company ends and your money will not be refunded.
• Avoid unrealistic offers. Offers promising to help you pay off a huge amount of your student loans within one or two years. It sounds good, but sadly, it is too good to be true.
• Be aware, even if their website looks “legit.” Scammers will use lookalikes or clone a logo from a government website, such as the Department of Education to make their website feel real and trustworthy.
What should I do instead?
There is nothing that a company can offer that you cannot do for yourself for free. Go to StudentLoans.gov to apply for an income-driven repayment plan, learn about government forgiveness plans or consolidate your federal loans — all for free. Or, use Federal Student Aid’s Repayment Estimator to see your monthly payment and projected loan forgiveness on various plans based on your income and family size.
What can you do if you think you have fallen victim to a scam?
Contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov or call your local FBI office immediately. The IC3 handles online scams and other cyber fraud.
Want to learn more? Email the Information Technology Services Cyber-Security Team at [email protected] or visit us on campus. Click here to view our Cybersecurity Awareness Month tabling locations.
If you have questions or need assistance, please contact ITS Customer Services at 859-218-HELP (4357) or [email protected].