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Susan Tompor: Struggling to pay student loans? You could be targeted by scammers

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Get a robocall lately from Jonathon or someone else saying that your student loans have been flagged for a student loan forgiveness program?

"If you owe more than $10,000 and are not currently enrolled in school, you could qualify for a reduced monthly payment and a large portion of your balance to be forgiven," one caller said.

"To redeem your spot in the program, it's important that you call me quickly."

Nicole Cross, 43, heard a similar pitch last year that promised student loan debt relief. But instead of saving any money, she lost $750 in fees and saw no relief when it came to owing more than $70,000 in student loans.

Cross, who lives in St. Clair Shores, Mich., said she has one bit of advice for people who are stressed out about their student loan debt and end up talking with someone offering student loan forgiveness.

"The minute they say $250," she said, "hang up the phone."

 

Cross said she was asked to pay $250 a month for three months last October, November and December as part of an agreement with National Student Loan Alliance, which is run by Gotham and is based in Brooklyn, New York.

Cross ended up paying money to a company with a name that sounded official, even similar to the National Student Loan Data System, which is the U.S. Department of Education's central database for student aid. But the loan alliance program doesn't have anything to do with any federal agency.

The pitch was that she could qualify for some debt forgiveness on some student loans and make smaller payments on the rest. She was to see her monthly payments lowered to around $132 a month for whatever loans wouldn't be forgiven.

"I'm only making $49,000 a year," said Cross, who graduated from Baker College in 2012 and works as a coding specialist in the home and hospice industry.

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