First, you receive a call about your student loans.
The person on the other end offers to lower your monthly payments or make your debt disappear all together, potentially for a fee. Sounds great, right?
You go through the steps, sharing your federal student loan ID and other sensitive information along the way.
No worrisome notices arrive at your door because the person, using your ID, changed your billing address. Months pass until you learn that your loans have gone unpaid and slipped into default, and that you've fallen prey to one of the growing number of student loan scams.
Seven in 10 college graduates are in debt from their education. The average person leaves school $30,000 in arrears, while nearly 20 percent owe more than $100,000. Americans are now more burdened by education loans than they are by credit card or auto debt.
For scammers, this is an opportunity.
These fraudsters commonly promise student debt forgiveness and lower payments. They often demand upfront fees up to thousands of dollars for this "service," which is illegal. So far, these charges have cost student loan borrowers more than $95 million, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC recently launched "Operation Game of Loans," an effort to crackdown on these companies around the country.
“When there’s a lot of debt, there will be people who try to take advantage of people who have that debt and are overwhelmed by it,” said Brianna McGurran, a student loan expert for personal finance website NerdWallet.