Saturday, September 24

Governor Hochul Urges New Yorkers to be Aware Of Scams Tied to Federal Student Debt Relief

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Governor Kathy Hochul today issued a warning to consumers about scammers taking advantage of the recent student debt relief plan to steal borrowers’ money and personal information. Scammers are creating a sense of urgency by impersonating government agencies and promising immediate student loan relief. Borrowers are reminded that it’s important to stay vigilant, well-informed and prepared for any fraud related to this new relief plan. Yesterday, Governor Hochul signed legislation to expand and simplify access to the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program statewide. This new legislation establishes what qualifies as full-time employment for the purposes of accessing PSLF, and allows public service employers to certify employment on behalf of workers, eliminating substantial barriers to applying for and accessing the program.
“New Yorkers work hard for every dollar they earn and the student loan forgiveness plan will be critical to helping reduce the pressures of mounting debt,” Governor Hochul said. “Unfortunately, unscrupulous individuals and scammers are using this as an opportunity to take advantage of others. Today, we’re putting scammers on notice: we will not let you take advantage of hard-working New Yorkers. I urge everyone to remain vigilant and stay informed to stop these bad actors in their tracks.”
What You Need to Know About the Federal Student Relief Plan:
On August 24, 2022, the Biden Administration announced a three-part plan to help working and middle-class federal student loan borrowers. The plan includes:
  1. A final extension of the student loan repayment pause through December 31, 2022, and loan forgiveness of up to $20,000 for qualified individuals
  2. Improving the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and creating a new income-driven repayment plan to reduce future monthly payments for lower- and middle-income borrowers.
  3. Reducing the cost of college to protect future students.
The U.S. Department of Education is working quickly to implement the improvements to student loans, but many details will be forthcoming. The Department of Education recommends logging in to your StudentAid.gov account to ensure your contact information is up to date and to sign up for alerts for when new information becomes available.
How to Avoid a Student Loan Forgiveness Scams:
  1. Seek trusted information and sources. Only go to “.gov” websites when seeking assistance.  The U.S. Department of Education recently launched a webpage to provide borrowers with a one-stop location for accurate and up to date information about the program. Upon accessing the site, borrowers will find not only general information but also a detailed Frequently Asked Questions section that provides facts about the student debt relief plan.
  2. Don’t trust any person or program who promises you early or special access, or guaranteed eligibility. You might be contacted by a company saying they will help you get loan discharge, forgiveness, cancellation, or debt relief for a fee. They may also offer to help you apply early. The loan forgiveness application will launch in early October and early access is not possible, and you never have to pay for help with your federal student aid. If you receive any of these offers, it’s a scam.
  3. Don’t give your personal information, Federal Student Aid ID or social security number to anyone who contacts you. Nobody from the Department of Education will be calling you or texting you about this initiative. Make sure you work only with the U.S. Department of Education, and never reveal your personal information or account password to anyone. Genuine emails to borrowers will only come from noreply@studentaid.gov.
  4. If you encounter a scam, report it. Contact the official Federal Student Aid website to file a complaint, or contact the Federal Trade Commission. The U.S. Department of Education offers additional tips and resources here.
Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “As many New Yorkers struggle to pay back their student loans, scammers are preying upon these borrowers in desperate need of immediate student loan relief. The New York State Division of Consumer Protection is reminding borrowers to only use trusted government websites and to not respond to unsolicited offers to obtain forgiveness, as student loan forgiveness scams have arisen after the recent federal government forgiveness announcement.”
State Senator Kevin Thomas said, “It’s a shame that the excitement and demand for this long-awaited Federal student debt relief has created a new window of opportunity for scammers to exploit those seeking assistance.  I’m urging New Yorkers seeking assistance to remain vigilant and only use trusted “.gov” websites to access student debt relief information.”
Assemblymember Harvey Epstein said, “I urge New Yorkers to be on the lookout for scams related to student loan forgiveness. As we fight to make forgiveness available to more New Yorkers, we’re unfortunately seeing scammers attempting to take advantage of borrowers. The good news is there are ways to protect yourself. I applaud Governor Hochul for making student loan forgiveness a priority and protecting student borrowers from predatory scams.”
The New York State Division of Consumer Protection provides voluntary mediation between a consumer and a business when a consumer has been unsuccessful at reaching a resolution on their own. The Consumer Assistance Helpline 1-800-697-1220 is available Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm, excluding State Holidays, and consumer complaints can be filed at any time at https://dos.ny.gov/consumer-protection.
For more consumer protection tips, follow the Division on social media at Twitter: @NYSConsumer and Facebook: www.facebook.com/nysconsumer.

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