- Regina Morrison Newman is the Shelby County trustee
You may recall we did a Wallet Warning a year ago when it appeared that the government was going to forgive some student loan debt.
Student loan repayments will start again this month. Scammers know that many of you will be scrambling to restart paying your loans, and they are trying to capitalize on your confusion.
Their “offers” include helping you avoid repayment, lower your payments, or even get your loans forgiven…for a price.
Our partners at the Better Business Bureau have received multiple reports recently from Memphians getting bogus calls, texts, and emails promising student loan debt relief for a fee.
The scammers were asking for Social Security numbers or Federal Student Aid IDs to see if borrowers were eligible. The reported scam calls came from the 833 and 314 area codes and Caller IDs showed “student loan center” or “education dept.”
How to avoid getting scammed
- First, never pay a fee to anyone who says they can help with your student loan debt.
- Do not pay to sign up for any programs to lower your payments or get forgiveness — it’s all free and the only place you can sign up or find out if you are eligible for relief is www.studentaid.gov, the official government website.
- Don’t give away your Federal Student Aid ID login information. Anyone who says they need it to help you is a scammer.
- Think something seems suspicious? Reach out to your lender directly.
Tips for restarting loan repayment successfully and affordably
- Log in or Create an Account with the Federal Student Aid Office: www.studentaid.gov – there you will be able to review your loans and figure out who your loan servicer is.
- Sign up for an income driven payment plan. For most people this will be the new “SAVE” plan that was just rolled out, which offers the lowest monthly payments based on income. You can find out more about SAVE and other income-driven repayment options at www.studentaid.gov/idr.
- Anyone with older Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) loans should consolidate into a Direct Loan immediately to qualify for these new income driven repayment benefits – www.studentaid.gov will walk you through the steps.
- Good rule of thumb! If you have federal loans that are not Direct Loans, look into consolidating them into Direct Loans.
- If you work in the nonprofit or government sector, apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and your loans will be canceled once you have made ten years of payments.
- Need more help? Visit www.studentaid.gov, www.studentloanborrowerassistance.org, or www.cancelmystudentdebt.org for more information.
If you would like to talk with someone about your financial situation and how to adjust your budget for monthly student loan payments, make an appointment with the Greater Memphis Financial Empowerment Center. You can meet one on one with a certified financial counselor at no cost, and they can help you set up a realistic plan. Call (901) 390- 4200 to request an appointment, or go to https://fecpublic.org/appointment- greatermemphis
Good news on the prescription drug front
The Biden administration took a big first step late last month toward reducing the cost of prescription drugs for tens of millions of Americans. It released a list of the first 10 drugs that will be subject to price negotiations with Medicare, kicking off a multiyear
process that should, if all goes according to plan, lower costs for the federal government and Medicare beneficiaries.
The list of 10 drugs includes medications for diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and cancer. They were selected through a process meant to prioritize the drugs that constitute the biggest share of Medicare spending and don’t yet face competitors. These 10 drugs accounted for about $50 billion, or 20%, of Medicare Part D spending, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Our goal with Wallet Warnings remains the same – to help you safeguard your money. If you have any questions or need any additional information about anything discussed here, please call (901) 222-0206. We are happy to help you avoid scams, fraud and predatory lenders. You work hard for your money, and we want to make sure scammers don’t get it.
Regina Morrison Newman is the Shelby County trustee. To view all previous Wallet Warnings, visit https://www.shelbycountytrustee.com/313/Wallet-Warnings
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