RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With the Federal government extending the pause on student loan payments until the end of August, it’s the perfect opportunity for student loan scammers to try and take advantage.

The U.S. Department Of Education says student loan borrowers owe a collective $1.6 trillion in both federal and private student loans. NerdWallet says that averages out to $28,950 per person who obtains a bachelor’s degree.

With debt that high, people are looking for ways to lower or eliminate payments.

“One of the biggest scams out there are those companies that are not legitimate and claim they can completely reduce or eliminate your student loans for a nominal fee,” said Alyssa Parker of the Better Business Bureau of BBB Eastern North Carolina.

The BBB says scammers will prey on consumers with student loans promising to lower their payments through loan forgiveness or other programs.

“Be really wary of anyone soliciting you to have student loans completely evaporate,” said Parker.

Many of these scammers will use social engineering tricks aimed at you regarding your loans.

Several precautions to take when talking with someone about your student loan debt are:

  • Never pay an upfront fee for help
  • Never agree to anything over the phone
  • Ask the company to send you the offer in writing

“If you’ve become the victim of a student loan scam, change your password, change your username and change the email address that the loan account is linked to,” said Parker. “That way they no longer have access to it.

If you want your student loan forgiven, the only agency that can do that is the U.S. Department of Education. And that’s a long, complicated process involving tons of paperwork.

No third-party company can get your loan reduced or forgiven, no matter what they claim.