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FBI Warns of Possible Student Loan Forgiveness Scams

Be on the lookout for scam emails, texts and phone calls.

A graduation cap on a mousetrap.
Experts say you should never respond to unsolicited emails, texts or online messages.

The FBI is warning that scammers might be targeting people applying for student loan forgiveness.

The agency says the scams, which could come in the forms of emails, texts, phone calls websites or online chats, could be attempts to swindle people with federal student loans out of their sensitive information or money.

Applications to have student debt forgiven opened Monday after the government launched a beta version of the program over the weekend. The Biden administration says millions of applications have already been processed.

With applications now underway, the FBI says cybercriminals may attempt to contact borrowers and offer entrance into the program, asking them to provide personal or financial information that they could use for identity theft or other scams down the road.

They also might ask for money to cover "processing fees," the FBI warns, adding that the federal government and its loan partners would never do this.

Student loan forgiveness is just the latest twist to phishing scams, cybersecurity experts say. Whether they appear to be a plea for financial help after a major disaster, or just a great deal from a top retailer, the idea is to get people to hand over their information or money before they think twice.

Phishing doesn't just show up just as email. Consumers also need to be wary of shady text messages, social media posts, QR codes and phone calls

To avoid being scammed, experts say, unsolicited emails and other messages should be ignored and attachments inside of them should never opened. They could contain computer viruses. 

Consumers should be particularly careful when it comes to cryptocurrency. Though banks might be able to make you whole in cases of credit card fraud, the same doesn't go for crypto, which is designed to be largely anonymous and untraceable.

Once it's gone, it's gone. Never give the keys to your crypto wallet to someone you don't know.

People who think they might be a victim of any kind of online scam should file a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center. Scams involving student loans should also be reported to the Department of Education and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.