Paying your students loans can be a struggle. You're bombarded with offers to consolidate, lower your payments, or even have your loans forgiven.
But how do you know if the offer is legitimate?
The Federal Trade Commission says you should look out for these five things:
Major red flag. If someone is asking you for money first in order to get rid of your debt, run the other way. According to the FTC: You shouldn’t have to pay an up-front fee. If you pay up-front to reduce or get rid of your student loan debt, you might not get any help - or your money back.
Total loan forgiveness
You know the saying: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Scammers could offer to get rid of your loans through a loan forgiveness program, or that they will wipe out your loans by disputing them. Don't fall for it.
They tell you to stop paying your student loans
Just don't. Not keeping up with your payments can hurt your credit score and make your balances skyrocket. The FTC says: Sometimes scammers will tell you not to speak with your loan servicer - supposedly so the company can negotiate a better settlement for you. But there’s no guarantee the company will be able to get a settlement, or that the settlement will save you money.
A Department of Education seal
This is tricky. Scammers use official-looking names, seals and logos to appear legitimate. If you have federal loans, go to the Department of Education directly at StudentAid.gov.
Pressure to sign up
Scammers love to turn up the heat to get you to act fast. They'll tell you that you could miss qualifying for repayment plans, loan consolidations, or loan forgiveness programs if you don’t sign up right away. Take your time. Know what you're signing.