A possible new scam is circulating the Internet, targeting UCA alumni who are looking for help with student loans.
The business name differs depending on the type of school in that location.
The ad targeting UCA alumni calls its company Savings Study Club on Facebook and its website, but on the phone it calls itself the US Student Loan Center.
People from Pocahontas, Arkansas reported a similar scam focused on Black River Technical College alumni. That company was called Smart Finance Club.
The ad reads “BREAKING NEWS: IF you attended University of Central Arkansas, you may qualify for loan forgiveness. Call (855) 207-8616 to see if you qualify. Deadline ending soon,” which pops onto the Facebook timeline, but disappears when clicking onto the page.
The website, savingsstudy.club, provides a testimony of a nameless student, but gives no information about what the organization is claiming to do except for saying “The good news is that the American government has recently passed laws that will give millions of Americans currently struggling with student loan debt much needed relief” and provides the phone number for questions.
When calling the given phone number, the employee asks for your name and information about your loan, such as how much you owe, what kind of loan it is and if it was co-signed.
“All the forgiveness programs and income-based programs are part of the William D. Ford Act of 2010,” Sue Condron, a US Student Loan Center employee said. “The money you don’t pay comes from the William D. Ford act. If you do decide to use our program there will be a one-time fee that will be based on your loan amount and we can actually break that into payments as well. We make it easy for you.”
Cheryl Lyons, director of financial aid, was not aware of this ad or company but said UCA provides students and alumni with many tools to help them with their loans and avoid scams.
“At no cost to students,” Lyons said, “We can provide them with information that will explain and help them decide what is best for them without it costing a penny.”
Along with help from the financial aid office, UCA also has a contract with a program called Solutions at ECMC that can help alumni stay ahead of their payments after graduating and help future graduates set up a plan before they have to start paying back the government. This program is paid for by the university and can be used at no cost for students or alumni.
“ECMC is not a collection agency, they don’t try to take money,” Lyons said, “The whole purpose of this company is to try and help students keep from being delinquent on their loans and to answer questions.”
Students and alumni can look for certain red flags to help them avoid paying for unnecessary services and to help prevent them from being scammed, according to Lyons.
When applying for any loans, no matter if state, federal or private, students should not have to pay to apply or receive advice for their loan. Upon leaving college, federal government agencies or services will not charge students to request advice or to help students set up payment plans.
“If someone is charging you for these services, it is either unnecessary or it is a scam,” Lyons said, “Because you can get it for free from the university by calling the federal agencies you took your loan out from.”
Students can contact the financial aid office for help or questions about loans at 501-450-3140 or Solutions at ECMC at 1-800-331-3262 or their website www.ecmc.org.
This article appeared in the March 16, 2016 print edition of The Echo.
image via studentloanfreedom.com