I received a call the other day from an unknown number on my cell phone. I did not pick it up, as I tend to do with unknown callers, and let it go to voicemail. After hearing the voicemail left, I was slightly amused. A very nice, young, American-sounding female was letting me know that I was qualified for the student loan forgiveness program and that I needed to act now as it would expire towards the end of the week.
There is one major issue with this – I no longer have any student loans (nor ever did – thanks, Mom and Dad).
I bring this up as it points out something that everyone should be aware of. Scammers are always phishing for information and will use any major event to try and trick you into providing your personal data or scamming you out of money.
After the U.S. Department of Education’s extension of the student loan payment, even before the White House announced President Biden’s three-part plan to cancel $10,000 of student debt, scammers were aiming at people looking for debt relief, employing all kinds of social engineering tactics.
Definite signs of a Student or other types of Loan Forgiveness Scam:
- Require upfront cost and/or ongoing fees
- Promise an immediate loan forgiveness
- Ask for your SSN, FSA ID, or Passwords
- Clam to represent the government
- Use high-pressure sales tactics
- Want you to sign a document for a power of attorney
Of course, these scams never stop. April it will be fake calls from the ‘IRS’ about your taxes, and so on and so on.
Never act on unsolicited calls from any type of agency. If you think it may be legitimate, hang up and call the number listed on the agency’s website for confirmation. Likewise, never give out any personal information. Typically, any legitimate agency, such as your bank, credit card supplier, etc, will only ask to verify a portion of information, not all of it.
If you really want to go down the rabbit hole, the top post from this Reddit thread (posted by Revlis-TK421) does an excellent job summarizing the most popular scams plaguing our society.
IT perspective on phishing scams: email is the biggest threat.
A lot of scammers utilize social engineering tactics and may fool even an experienced email recipient into opening an email that looks legitimate.
Phishing is the attempt to acquire sensitive information by posing as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. It is typically done through often legitimate-looiking e-mail and spoofing – instructing users to perform further action, such as clicking on links, submit forms and provide more information.
And as a reminder, here are a few reads from the past on popular scams: