Tammy Baldwin helps reduce student debt relief scams

Tammy Baldwin

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Tammy Baldwin

Amber Brockman, News Writer

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U.S. Senators introduced the bipartisan Stop Student Debt Relief Scams Act, legislation that would enhance efforts to identify and shut down student debt relief scams.

The press release was delivered by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin, Mike Braun, Jeanne Shaheen and Deb Fischer on April 11.

“Far too many students are already struggling with student loan debt, and they deserve to be protected from scammers and bad actors who are preying on their financial security,” Baldwin said in the release. “I’m leading this bipartisan reform because it is just common sense to stop these student loan debt relief scams that harm American students and prevent them from getting ahead.”

“Debt relief scams falsely promise borrowers a quick fix with little hassle,” the press release states. “These scams robocall student loan borrowers until they agree to pay thousands of dollars in unnecessary fees for services that are available for free, claiming to reduce or forgive borrowers’ student debt.”

In a March 2018 report, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General recommended that Congress strengthen federal law to help stop scam artists that fraudulently obtain access to borrower’s online login credentials, primarily by imposing meaningful financial penalties and prosecuting individuals and entities perpetrating these scams. The Stop Student Debt Relief Scams Act would accelerate the end to this rampant misconduct.

In the release Fischer said that she is proud to co-sponsor this solution to better protect students who rely on loans to pay for higher education.

“Hard-working students and their families deserve protections from debt relief scams,” Fischer said. “With this bipartisan legislation, Congress would clarify that it is a federal crime to access the Department of Education’s [Information Technology] systems for fraudulent purposes.”

UW Oshkosh Financial Aid Assistant Director Karen Kennedy said there has been many different types of scams with student financial aid.

“Obviously, the Financial Aid Office is concerned with any scams taking advantage of students who are seeking to manage their student loan debt,” Kennedy said. “The Financial Aid Office seeks to educate students and parents about being alert to possible scams such as helping to file the FAFSA for a fee or paying to apply for a scholarship.”

Kennedy said students need to be proactive in knowing who their servicer is and what type of payment options are available to best fit their individual needs.

“You can find all of your loan information and servicer information on the National Student Loan Data System for students,” Kennedy said. “Also, the Financial Aid Office can help students with all types of issues related to student loans and financial aid.”

Kennedy said these scams try to create a sense of urgency that students need help with loan repayment.

“In all likelihood, they will charge you a high fee and then suggest you do exactly what you could have done for free, without charge,” Kennedy said. “Students don’t need to pay exorbitant fees to manage loan repayment.”

Kennedy said it is best to contact the servicer with any issues.

“If you have challenges meeting your loan repayment obligation, talk with your servicer who is there to be your advocate,” Kennedy said. “The servicer will be able to explain all of your options and how best to proceed.”