For many current and former students, taking out a loan is the only way to pay for an education. According to the U.S. Department of Education, one out of every eight Americans have outstanding federal loans that total to 1.2 trillion dollars. As many struggle to pay off their loans, debt relief scams pose themselves as an easy way out.
Student loan scams have been around for several years, but our data shows that they have become significantly more prevalent in recent months. In the past quarter, the number of scam calls and text messages reported by Hiya users doubled compared to the first quarter of 2016. Hiya’s Data and Reputation Services team took a closer look at where these scam calls are coming from:
Top Ten Area Codes Associated with Student Loan Scams:
- 214 (Dallas, TX)
- 267 (Philadelphia, PA)
- 718 (New York City)
- 319 (Southeastern Iowa)
- 347 (New York City)
- 301 (Greater Washington D.C.)
- 405 (Oklahoma City, OK)
- 419 (Northwest Ohio)
- 432 (Western Texas)
- 772 (Treasure Coast, FL)
Five Signs of a Student Loan Scam:
- The caller may pretend to be affiliated with the federal government, e.g. the National Student Aid Center or the U.S. Department of Education
- They claim that your student loans have been flagged or pre-approved for refinancing
- They may ask about the amount of student loans you have
- They offer to lower the interest rate on your loan through Obama’s Loan Forgiveness Program or Debt Relief Program
- They will ask for sensitive information like your credit card information, social security number or Federal Student Aid ID
The agencies behind these scams charge huge fees and lie about the benefits of their services. The U.S. Department of Education however, affirms that you never have to pay to get help managing your student debt and offers free assistance on their website.
How You Can Protect Yourself from Scammers
An effective way to protect yourself from student loan scams and other fraudulent calls is by downloading the Hiya app. Hiya identifies incoming calls and warns you of suspected scam and spam so you know when not to pick up the phone. If a scammer does get through to you, hang up immediately and never give out any personal information. You can also help others in our community by reporting that number through the app.