student loan debt, Student Loans

Uncertainty Surrounding Debt Relief Leads to Increased Student Loan Scams

Many student loan borrowers seeking relief from their student debt burden prior to payments resuming in 2022 have found themselves on the receiving end of student loan scams. In fact, a number of consumer protection firms across the U.S. have issued warnings regarding the increase of certain student loan debt relief scams.  It is important that all consumers are aware of what red flags to look for when being offered financial assistance towards their student loan debt.

Borrowers were given some relief during the COVID-19 pandemic with federal student loan repayments being paused since March 2020, along with federal student loan interest being halted during this time. However, federal student loan payments are scheduled to resume in February 2022, meaning that millions of borrowers will be required to pay on their student loan debt for the first time in over a year. This fact has many borrowers panicking and trying to figure out how to either continue paying on their debt or find relief wherever they can find it.

Student loan relief scams are nothing new. In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued millions of dollars in refunds to individuals who fell victim to student debt scams. As of 2017, it is estimated that $95 million has been paid to student loan fraud victims. As a result, financial experts predict that even more fraud reports will be coming in 2022.

One of the biggest warning signs borrowers should look for when communicating with an entity claiming to provide debt relief to student loan borrowers is when the person on the other end of the phone requests the caller’s student loan login information or his or her Social Security number. While their request may seem legitimate, providing this information could open the consumer up to having their student loan accounts hacked, also allowing the scammer to create falsified documents with this information and defraud the consumer even further.

The information being requested is often referred to as personal identifiable information or PII, and it can include the consumer’s Social Security number, driver’s license number, banking information, and credit card numbers. Providing this information allows the scammer to hack the consumer’s identity.

Another sign of a scam occurs when the alleged debt relief company requests money up front before providing a service. If a company is requesting the person pay a fee before even beginning the process of negotiating on a debt, this is a major red flag that indicates the company may not be legitimate.

Additionally, if the student loan debt relief company advertises their services on social media or reaches out to the consumer directly through cold calling, this could be another sign of a potential scam. If a consumer speaks with a company who has contacted him or her directly regarding debt relief, it is imperative that he or she does the proper research to ensure that the company is legitimate. A general Internet search of the company on reputable sources should be able to help the person ascertain whether a scam is involved.

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For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available.  Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan debt.  It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

student loan debt, Student Loans

Navient Will No Longer Service Federal Student Loans- What This Means for Borrowers

Navient has announced that it will no longer service federal student loans. The company is one of the largest servicers for the U.S. Department of Education. Navient has a massive $1.7 trillion oustanding in its student loan portfolio.

The decision leaves around 6 million borrowers waiting to be matched with a new lender.  With a transition of this magnititude, problems are likely to occur. Here are a few things borrowers should do now if their student loans are getting reassigned to another lender.

student loan debt, Student Loans

What Is Next for Student Loans in the Covid Era?

Student loans have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 relief offered through the federal government. The biggest source of relief came in the moratorium on federal student loan repayments issued by the Biden administration and was extended through the end of 2021. However, this moratorium is expected to end January 31, 2022, leaving many student loan borrowers left to wonder what is next.

It is estimated that $1.5 trillion in student loan debt is now owed collectively by U.S. student borrowers. Therefore, these measures have widespread effects for many American consumers.

student loan debt, Student Loans

Biden Administration Cancels Additional $55.6 Million in Student Loan Debt

The Biden Administration canceled an additional $55.6 million in student loans for 1,800 students who were found to be victims of fraud. This additional amount brings the total amount of student loan debt cancelled by the Biden administration to $1.5 trillion. 

Since entering office, President Biden has made it his mission to stand up for the thousands of students who were taken advantage of by for-profit colleges. This most recent effort was focused on students who attended Westwood College, Marinello Schools of Beauty, and the Court Reporting Institute. Previously, the administration had approved loan forgiveness for students who attended ITT Technical Institute, the American Career Institute and Corinthian College. This is the first time the Department of Education has approved loan forgiveness for students attending for-profit schools not including these three.  

Credit Card Debt

Which Debts Should You Pay First After Paying Off Your Credit Cards?

Credit card debt is not the only type of consumer debt people struggle with. Once this debt is paid off in full, it helps to have a plan on which debts to tackle next.

According to data from the Federal Reserve and TransUnion, American consumers paid off a total of $82.9 billion in credit card debt in 2020. Credit card balances continued to drop by $49 billion in the first quarter of 2021, which is the second-largest quarterly balance decline seen since 1999. Despite this fact, more than 20 million American consumers have their student loan debts in forbearance.  

For the most part, financial advisors recommend that consumers pay down any debts they have that carry the highest interest rates, which is why credit cards are usually the first focus. With stimulus programs still in place, providing extra income to consumers temporarily, many financial advisors argue a different theory should be followed. 

Instead of focusing on the debt with the highest interest rate, consumers should look at all their debts and consider other options, such as refinancing other debt sources to lower their interest rates or modify payments. Refinancing could be a possibility for unsecured personal loans, as well as for mortgage debt.  With lower interest rates, consumers are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to save money and lower monthly payments, making it easier to pay off debts in full. 

Once credit card debt is paid off, many financial advisors recommend that consumers focus next on paying off their car loans. A car loses its value significantly as soon as it is driven, which is why so many consumers find themselves owing more on the car loan than the vehicle is worth. The interest rates of car loans tend to be moderate to high, although not always as high as credit card debt, depending on the consumer. Many times, it is advisable to either sell the car and use the proceeds to pay off what is owed on the loan or to refinance the loan.   

Once personal loans, credit card debt, and car loans are paid off by the consumer, it may then be advisable to pay off outstanding federal student loans. Since payments and interest is paused on federal student loans until September 30, 2021. During this time, any payment will go towards principal and not interest rate. Paying down this debt will only help improve the consumer’s credit score. 

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If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.   

student loan debt, Student Loans

Facing a Broken Student Loan System Borrowers Set Hopes on New Reform Bill

The student loan system has been considered broken for quite some time, and while many reform efforts have been made to help improve the process, nothing has been successful thus far. However, a new student loan reform bill could signal meaningful change is on the way.

This reform bill focuses on how student loan debt is handled in bankruptcy. Traditionally, student loans are non-dischargeable in a personal bankruptcy case, unless a specific set of criteria are met. The “Consumer Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2020,” proposed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) proposes a way to make this process easier, allowing more student loans to be discharged through personal bankruptcy. The bill addresses both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases and proposes changing the current systems under each chapter by one system, entitled Chapter 10.  

Coronavirus, COVID-19, student loan debt, Student Loans

How Student Loan Borrowers Will Benefit from the Stimulus Bill

The recently passed $2.2 trillion stimulus bill provides several different forms of financial assistance for American consumers during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The new bill also provides options for student loan borrowers who are struggling to keep up on their loan payments, which comes as good news for the over 44 million borrowers holding more than $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loan debt.

Borrowers who have federally owned student loans will not have to pay on their loans through at least September 30, including Parent PLUS Loans. This payment suspension will occur automatically and does not need to be requested by the borrower.

student loan debt

What Borrowers Should Know About Refinancing Student Loan Debt

If you are facing reduced income as the coronavirus spreads, keeping up with your bills may become increasingly challenging—especially if you are among the more than 43 million people in the US who have student loan debt.

Student loan borrowers regularly receive email advertisements regarding the possibility of saving money on their loans by refinancing their student loan debt. The possibility of saving thousands in student loan interest paid on the debt is tempting, but not every refinancing option is legitimate. However, for borrowers who are paying on loans with rather high interest rates, refinancing through a reputable source can be an excellent way to lower how much interest they pay in the end.

Debt Relief, student loan debt, Student Loans

Recent Court Decision Sheds Light on the Deceptive Practices of Student Loan Service Providers

A recent Seventh Circuit court ruling is providing hope to many student loan borrowers who are finding themselves in a difficult financial situation due to the heavy burden of their debt. The Seventh Circuit has ruled that a student loan servicer may be liable for damages caused as a result of their promises to advise student loan borrowers on how to handle their financial situations, directing them into plans that only benefit the lenders and hurt borrowers in the long run.

The case at the center of it all is Nelson v. Great Lakes Higher Education,  which was a case brought by student borrower, Nicole Nelson. Nelson paid for her college education through federal student loans, which she began repaying in 2009. However, she soon found herself in a tough situation when her income dropped due to a job change two years later.

Debt Relief, student loan debt

Seniors Carrying as Much Student Loan Debt as Borrowers in Their 30s

The student loan debt crisis is at an all-time high, but it appears that when it comes to the age of the borrower, this type of debt does not discriminate. According to Experian, a review of student loan balances across different age categories showed that borrowers who were in their 30s and borrowers who were in their 60s carried around the same amount of student loan debt.

According to Experian, the average 30-year-old borrower owes $36,406 in student loan debt while the average 60-year-old borrower owes $35,637.