RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — More than 16 million people have been approved for the government’s student loan forgiveness program, but its implementation remains in limbo because of various legal challenges. 

That delay is making it easier for scammers to convince people that there is another way to help them get rid of that debt. 

The White House estimates 26 million have applied for debt relief on their federally held student loans with 16 million fully approved.  

However, nothing is happening right now because a federal judge in Texas halted the program amid several lawsuits.  

Now, it’s up to the US Supreme Court to hear the case at the end of February. In the meantime, scammers are taking advantage.  

Student loan scams were incredibly popular, even before this program came up,” said Alyssa Parker of the Better Business Bureau of the Eastern Carolinas.

With the loan forgiveness program frozen, scammers are trying to convince people that there’s another way to remove your debt — by paying a fee.  

“When forgiveness companies ask for money up front, especially a large amount of money, that’s typically a red flag,” said Parker. 

Some scammers will claim to be with the government — beware of that tactic. 

“Typically, you’re not going to get a call out of the blue or text messages from someone claiming to be from the government or your student loan company,” said Parker. “They don’t expect to target everybody, but if they send a text message or email or phone call to hundreds of thousands of people, the odds are they will get one or two or more than that.” 

Applying for a loan requires a lot of paperwork and personal information and criminals use that to their advantage. 

“Scammers want your personal information,” said Parker. “That is something you should never give out over the phone when it relates to loans — and student loans especially.” 

If you have questions about paying your student loan or the status of the forgiveness program, go directly to the source which is the federal government’s Student Aid agency. That agency has the latest info about the situation on its website which is updated often.  

It also offers a live chat function and other information. 

In the meantime, if you have a federal student loan — payments remain on pause until June 30. 

If the situation isn’t resolved by then, payments will resume 60 days after the June 30  deadline.