THE INVESTIGATORS: Experts warn of student loan forgiveness scam
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Officials with the Better Business Bureau are sounding the alarm as people have started getting phone calls from businesses and individuals claiming they can help wipe out their student loan debt. Laurie Mercier says she got one of those calls out of the blue. The person on the other end offered what she considered to be a lifeline.
”They were very persuasive,” Mercier said.
Mercier says whoever called her was offering a deal too good to turn down. It was a chance to eliminate her husband’s student loans through the student loan forgiveness program but she tells the 9News Investigators something about the offer just felt off.
”They wanted me to pay them like a 500 dollar deposit,” Mercier said. “It was like a good faith deposit and I’m like well if it’s forgiveness and you’re trying to eliminate money, why is it costing me so much money?”
Mercier couldn’t shake that question and told the caller she would need to discuss it with her husband. That’s when she says things got interesting.
WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked her how many times she was called.
“Oh my gosh. They were calling every day,” said Mercier. With each call, Mercier says the pressure picked up.
”They were trying to wheel and deal just to make sure they got some money and I’m like no. The more you pressure me wanting my money, the more red flag I have that this is something not right.
”It’s that feeling Carmen Million with the Better Business Bureau says may have saved Mercier a lot of money. Million believes those hoping to separate people from their money are picking the perfect time to strike.
”This is the time to start targeting people,” said Million.
Loan forgiveness is real. President Joe Biden has even pushed for ways to wipe away that debt for many. The idea has understandably made headlines and many may have seen it in the news. Million says that only makes calls like the one Mercier received sound even more legit.
”People automatically associate it with something they’ve seen in the news that is legitimate but you can’t assume anything,” Million warned. “You have to investigate.
”Million says one thing that makes it harder to look into is the fact that those callers can trick the phone system to disguise their number on caller ID. She warn they can make it say whatever they want when they call, making it easier for them to target people.
“People should not trust caller ID because even if it looks legitimate and even if it sounds legitimate and you receive a call, you need to question it,” Million added.
While Mercier did not give away her money, the experts with the Better Business Bureau warn not everyone is as lucky.
“It’s an expensive lesson but it should teach you to investigate before you get involved,” Million added. Because of FCC rules, WAFB could not air a copy of one of those voicemails on air but anyone who’s interested in what to look out for can listen to the recording here.
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