Fraudsters are likely to try to use the Federal Student Aid debt forgiveness program to trick students into providing their identities, payment information and even money, the FBI has warned.
Federal Student Aid is a program designed to help students by waiving some of their student debt. It was announced this summer and began submitting applications this Monday. Students with incomes below $125,000 (or $250,000 if applying jointly) can apply and get between $10,000 and $20,000 from their loan.
Reports say there are around 45 million people in the US with student loans owed around $1.6 trillion, which means there is a huge scope for cybercriminals.
Fake websites and phishing
What the FBI specifically warns against is fraudulent websites disguised as application forms, tricking students into providing confidential information. These sites may be accompanied by phishing emails or text messages. The only way to apply for the program is through studentaid.gov.
“Cybercriminals and scammers may allegedly offer entry into the Federal Student Loan Forgiveness program by contacting potential victims via phone, email, mail, text, websites, or other online chat services,” the FBI warns in its alert.
“Cybercriminals and scammers use their schemes to receive payments for services they will not provide or to collect information about victims, which they can then use to facilitate various other crimes,” the agency added.
The FBI also warned students that applying to the program is free, so if someone contacts them and demands payment to enter the program or to process their application, they may know they are a scammer. In addition, students do not need to create or log in to any accounts anywhere to apply. In the first stage of the application, applicants will not be asked to provide any documents.
This will come later, and those who pass the first stage will be contacted from the following addresses:
By: Beeping Computer (opens in a new tab)