New loan scam targets college students

Elizabeth Stoeger, Staff Writer

Students in Corvallis, Eugene, and Salem have received calls from a fake number purporting to be from the State Treasury asking for loan payments.

Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler issued a statement warning students of this new scam on Thursday.

Oregonians have reported receiving calls from a “threatening impersonator” who claims to be from the Oregon 529 Network at the State Treasury, according to the press release.

At least one person has reportedly pain $1,000 in nearly untraceable gift cards.

The Oregon 529 Network is an office that assists people in creating savings accounts devoted to educational expenses. The scammers use technology to hide behind this false number and lure people into thinking State loan collectors are seeking money.

The Treasury does not collect nor seek student loan payments.

The Linfield financial aid office has been notified of this most recent scam.

Keri Burke, Director of Financial Aid, said, “I would encourage anyone who receives a phone call of this nature to not provide any information, hang up and call the local police.”

No students affiliated with Linfield have been contacted so far, according to Burke.

Scams aimed at college students are nothing new. This is the third loan scam directed at students since January.

Two debt relief companies were sent cease and desist orders for misrepresenting their affiliation with the Department of Education (ED), implying the ED was associated to their programs.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) took action against Student Aid Institute, Inc. in March for “illegally marketing debt relief to student loan borrowers struggling with their debt and misrepresenting that fees were required to participate in federal student loan programs that are, in fact, free,” according to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) press release.

This came 15 days after another CFPB request to close Student Loan Processing.US for illegal practices, which included charging its customers millions of dollars in fees for federal student loan services.

Wheeler said, “Students and recent graduates are just starting out and the last thing they need is to fall prey to a cynical scam . . . Protect yourself and your finances and hang up.”

The Treasury Department recommends hanging up immediately and contacting local police or the state Department of Justice if called by this scammer.

College students and recent graduates should stay vigilant, be aware that a plethora of schemes like this one exist, and notify the proper authorities if they are contacted.