COLORADO SPRINGS — $1.7 Trillion in national student loan debt has led to calls, texts, emails, and even letters in the mail from companies with offers to help manage or even cancel student loan debt. But in many cases, these offers are too good to be true and may create even more challenges for borrowers.
"Most of us are in for a lot of money for the education we got and to be able to get out of it, why wouldn't you go for it, you know?," said Christopher Demers who currently works as a director for News5 newscasts.
Demers says he got an offer for student loan forgiveness in the mail and seeing it said "final notice" he decided to call.
"The scary thing is they had all my information on my student loans, what could be happening to me," said Demers. "She said it would be $39 a month for 20 years and then after that, I'd qualify for the loan forgiveness. So I was like ok this is great, let's do that. At the end, she said 'we need $1,000 dollars up front' blah, blah, blah and I was like I can't pay that."
After talking to coworkers and family, Demers called the feds who gave him the bad news.
"I'm probably a victim of fraud and I need to change all my stuff and so that's what I did," said Demers.
Demers immediately contacted his bank to close his account and start a new one.
"My bank told me that they actually had to change out several in the past three weeks," said Demers. "It makes me feel better about myself because I felt dumb for falling for it, especially knowing all this stuff. But then when I realized that it's not just me and that it's a very common thing. I realized these people are getting a lot more sophisticated and we're all in trouble."
At the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado, phones have been ringing with people sharing similar experiences.
"We are very certain that they've increased. I think dozens a day, we get calls," said Adah Rodruguez of the BBB of Southern Colorado. "I mean just personally and through colleagues and personal connections, I know so many people who have gotten five or six calls a day in the last week."
News5 acquired a voicemail that was reported as a scam:
"Um... this is Joanna and I'm calling in reference to your student loan. We need to discuss your repayment options with the new changes that have recently gone into effect. Please give me a call back with the reference number of 45839."
Did you recently get one of these student loan management or forgiveness offers? Before you take any action on it you might want to talk to consumer protection experts.
You can contact the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado to get questions or concerns addressed by calling (719) 636-1155.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a U.S. government agency that makes sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat you fairly. You can contact them by calling (855) 411-2372.