Consumer Alert: Scammers using streaming trends, deferred student loan payment extension to their advantage

Phone scam
Phone scam(MGN)
Published: Sep. 6, 2020 at 11:59 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - We’ve been glued to our television sets more than ever during the pandemic - streaming content, binge watching a favorite series, and more.

However, scammers follow these trends, and now the Better Business Bureau is getting reports in its online scam tracker about people impersonating internet and cable television companies, and the calls can sound pretty convincing.

Many scammers use the same hold music as well known cable companies, and even duplicate the company’s call menu.

The scammers might claim you’re getting a rebate because you overpaid on a recent bill, or offer a special promotion.

In order to get the deal, you have to pay several months up-front using a prepaid debit card.

Legitimate companies don’t ask you to pay with prepaid cards or gift cards.

If you’re unsure about an offer, get the customer service number from your latest bill or company website and call to make sure the offer is real.

In addition, scammers are also using the extension of no interest on student loans for the rest of the calendar year to their advantage.

The extension is part of the CARES Act, and borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically receive a six-month forbearance retroactive to March 13 for eligible loans.

No payments will be due, and no interest will accrue during the forbearance period, which previously lasted until September 30, however that was extended to December 31 after President Trump signed an executive order to extend the period.

All auto-debit payments are automatically suspended, however borrowers may want to cancel their auto-pay by using their provider’s website to make sure money wasn’t deducted before the suspension was implemented. If it was deducted, borrowers can request a refund.

Officials say due to the automatic forbearance, borrowers will need to be aware that their repayment terms may be extended, so the final payment date might be six months later than originally planned.

“What’s important to know - if someone calls you and says ’Do you want to apply for this program?’ that is a scam. You don[’t have to do anything, you don’t have to pay anything. You don’t have to fill out any forms. The federal government will put eligible loans in the program unilaterally without you doing anything. The second thing you need to know is not everything (all loans) applies,” said Lara Sutherlin, the Administrator for the Wisconsin Division of Consumer Protection.

The state has set up a student loan help hotline for anyone who has questions, or if you’re unsure if your loan is a private loan, or if you’re having a difficult time contacting your student loan provider.

The hotline can be reached at 833-589-0750 Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

State officials say the hotline will also help callers understand the CARES Act relief program, as well as determine where to find more personalized information from, figure out where to find personal information from their school, servicer or lender, and can also offer guidance on payment grace periods, job loss and/or financial situations, and delinquent loan payments.

Officials add the hotline doesn’t ask borrowers for personally identifiable information such as your birthday or a social security number, or access specific loan information.

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