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#StudentLoan scam heads-up October 18, 2014

Posted by Erin Ptah in Personal.
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Got a too-good-to-be-true letter in the mail the other day. Figured I would put the details online, so you’ll know it’s not just you if something similar shows up in your mailbox.

It’s a folded sheet of paper with those sealed and perforated edges, so it looks official. And it starts off innocently enough:

Dear Erin,
Due to your student loan balances totaling over [price], you are now eligible to receive benefits from a new law that has passed regarding federal student loans including TOTAL FORGIVENESS in some circumstances.

Two problems with this:
1) If a new law like this had really passed in the US, it would be ALL OVER the news, the blogs, my Facebook feed, and my Tumblr dash.
2) My loans are currently several thousand dollars under [price].

Googling some of the language in the letter turned up this Metafilter post about similar “refinance your loan!” tricks. Including this comment:

This is a (phish-y) refinancing offer. I get teh same thing all the time regaring my mortgage. Ususally the loan balance will be slightly higher than your real loan balance because their info is a few months out of date.

Ah, that explains it.

And this:

Presort Standard (marked by the postage) is for bulk, unpersonalized mail only. What this means is that they can’t include any specific details that pertain to you, and it’s almost always junk or spam. Presort First Class mail, while still for bulk mailings, allows personalized information. This type is more likely to be authentic and applicable specifically to you.

And what do you know, this letter is marked Presort Standard. (Even though it has my full name, and some information, however out-of-date, about my specific loans.)

Would be nice if the senders put their name on this thing — but here’s the other big red flag: they don’t. No name, no company logo, no return address, no identification whatsoever. The closest they come is this:

We are a consumer advocacy group. We are not debt collectors. We work on your behalf with the U.S. Department of Education to find applicable flexible financial relief programs to make your Federally Insured Student Loans flexible and easy to manage.

(There’s some fine print with a more honest disclaimer, but the letter is folded in such a way that I literally only just found it: “This is a private fee-based application assistance service, not endorsed or associated with any government agency….”)

The only contact info is the toll-free phone number — 888-852-2076. Which turns up the website of something called “Diabetic Savings Club”. I can’t figure out what they do, or how they would be connected to loan refinancing, much less refinancing of my loans (ftr, I’m not diabetic, nor is anyone in my immediate family). And I’m not invested enough to go calling them to find out (although if anyone reading wants to ring them up and tell me how it goes, feel free).

There’s also a bit of identifying info in the postage — it’s presorted by “Permit no. 1297” — which turns up lots of sites and discussions about financial predation and dodgy scams.

Long story short: my fellow Americans, if you get a letter like this, don’t let it give you false hope. Shred it, with no regrets.

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