|By State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne)
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency is warning students and borrowers to be wary of financial aid scams that could expose them to identity theft and significant financial loss.
The most effective way to avoid becoming the victim of a scam is to be alert when asked to provide any form of personal information or when engaging in financial transactions.
Recent scams include:
- Student loan forgiveness scams – Companies or individuals claim to reduce or eliminate student debt in exchange for money. Loan forgiveness programs have specific eligibility requirements. No one can guarantee forgiveness in exchange for a fee.
- Tuition scams – These involve someone claiming to work for your school’s administrative office, calling to warn you that your tuition is late and you risk being dropped from class unless you pay immediately. If you are contacted about anything involving money, end the call immediately and contact your school directly in order to check the status of the alleged problem.
- Unnecessary fees for service – While not necessarily a scam, beware of anyone charging a fee in exchange for application completion, a scholarship, debt counseling, or almost anything else. In most cases, it is either a scam or you are being charged for something that you can easily access for free.
With today’s ever-present mobile technology and social media channels – such as Facebook and Instagram – scammers have more tools to reach consumers with fraudulent pitches that might seem legitimate. Students and borrowers need to take the time to become more knowledgeable and vigilant, which are the first steps toward protecting themselves from becoming a victim.
If you believe that you have been targeted or victimized by a scam, please contact the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, the Consumer Fraud Protection Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission.
Representative Tarah Toohil
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office