Fraudulent Student Debt Relief Scams

By: Tonya Mead, CFE, PI, MBA,MA Educational Psychology Did you know that approximately 40 million Americans are indebted to institutions for approximately $1.3 trillion for student loans? Maybe you have firsthand experience on the difficulties of keeping current on student loan debt when job expectations are not on par with your reality. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that 20% or 8 million borrowers are not up-to-date on their payments and are in default.   The OIG within the US Department of Education recognized this problem and criticized the agency for lacking a “comprehensive plan or strategy to prevent student loan defaults” in 2014. Rather than wait for government action, many student loan debtors are turning to credit counselors for help lowering their debt. In 2005, about nine million Americans did so. Other articles of interest What happened? Many debt relief counselors exacerbate student problems of poor job market, competition from the non-documented, under-employment, and lackluster starting salaries.  Debt relief scammers advertise student financial aid and other debt relief services by sending promotions by email and direct mail to targeted individuals. They also announce deals on the radio, cable television, and websites frequented by indebted college students.   Unscrupulous “counselors compound problems, offering improper advice, engaging in deceptive practices, or charging exorbitant fees.”  Wasik, ponders that “some  [student] clients ended up in a worse position while paying the firm to solve their problems.” Tonya J. Mead, CFE, PI, MBA, MA, Certified K-12 Administrator and School Psychologist is author of Fraud in Education: Beyond the Wrong Answer and president of Shared Knowledge, LLC Sources: Kirchheimer, Scam Proof Your Life. New York, NY: AARP. Sterling Publishing, Inc, 2006. J.F. Wasik, “Debt and Deceit,” Forbes, p. 82-87, 17 August, 2015. T. Mead, “Fraud in Education: Beyond the Wrong Answer, Shared Knowledge, LLC, 2016.