I will start off with stating this is all my personal opinion based on a recent experience rather than something I can claim as fact.
I tend to enjoy playing along with situations that seem like scams and have a nice collection of fake checks and money orders to show for it. You can find examples of this in older posts such as this one HERE. This situation I’m going to talk about involves what seems to be a student loan financial scam.
A few days ago, I received a call from Linda Burke, who left a voice mail. The message stated “Hello, this is Linda Burke I’m calling in reference to your federal student loans. We need to discuss your repayment options with the new changes that are taking place. I need you to call me before Friday evening at 866.310.0457 with your reference number 44740. Thank you”
I haven’t had a student loan in years so this is obviously a phishing call. I called back and had a gentleman named George speak with me. I gave him the reference number but it meant nothing since he knew nothing about me. He asked about my loan, which I gave him a fake number along with fake info about myself.
He asked me to log into the real student loan website (https://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds/nslds_SA/) and reset my password to student123 so he could log in as me. I told him I couldn’t do that but I could log in and provide any data needed. He asked for very personal info, which anything that would be considered personal I didn’t provide. Next he offered to drum up a refinance and gave me something around 644 dollars a month for 120 months. This was based purely on giving him a loan debt amount and false info about where I live. In order to start the process, I was suppose to give him a bunch of private information including access to my account at nslds.ed.gov, which he was attempting to access and monitoring for me to reset my password for him.
I started asking about his company and was told they are http://relieffinancial.com/ and his email is [email protected]. The website looks somewhat professional and he did email me later with a very generic email as shown.
The domain owners via hostgator sources are associated with other malicious domains. So far, things don’t look good for these guys. The website was also created January 3, 2018 making them a fairly new company hosted from HostGator.
Searching Google via the name Linda Burke and found there are reports of this name being used for the exact same call where people do not even have loans like me. One example is this website https://800notes.com/Phone.aspx/1-888-326-3824 and here is an example of feedback.
My biggest question is what is the purpose behind this phishing scam? After doing a little research, it looks like these types of companies either charge you for services you don’t need (IE things you can do yourself) or are stealing sensitive data. I found a great source explaining the scam found at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/avoiding-loan-scams.
These are the key phishing terms they claim to watch out for
- “Act immediately to qualify for student loan forgiveness before the program is discontinued.”
- “You are now eligible to receive benefits from a recent law that has passed regarding federal student loans, including total forgiveness in some circumstances. Federal student loan programs may change. Please call within 30 days of receiving this notice.”
- “Your student loans may qualify for complete discharge. Enrollments are first come, first served.”
- “Student alerts: Your student loan is flagged for forgiveness pending verification. Call now!”
So in summary, it should be easy for anybody who doesn’t have a loan to not care about this. For those that do, the best advice is to always call your current real loan provider and ask them about a cold call like this before giving any information. The same advice would apply to any cold call claiming to know you and asking for private information. I have seen different versions of this cam claiming I am suppose to be in court in a few hours, my taxes are late, and so on. It is always OK to question who is calling before giving anything since these scams exist and prey on people who trust strangers.