It seems that telephone scams are alive and well even in this digital age. Several times a week I’ll get a phone call (on my cell phone) from a number I don’t recognize. Sometimes I don’t answer. Sometimes I do.
Recently I decided to answer one of these calls and ended up listening to a computer voice tell me that this was my last chance to save money on my student loans before certain federal programs end. Since my student loans have been paid off for a very long time, and I also happen to know more than a little about federal student aid programs (such as that no federal student aid programs are currently scheduled to end), I decided that I would try to have a little fun.
The computer voice told me to press 5 if I knew my FSA ID or 8 if I needed help retrieving it. So this was a cue to me that the mission of this scammer was likely to get my FSA ID and use that to retrieve other private information about me (like my Social Security number and birth date). I pressed 5 and then was put on hold for a minute or so. This seemed weird since I was on the receiving end of the phone call. But I held. I wanted to play. Eventually I was greeted by someone who asked if I was having trouble making my student loan payments. I said that no, that wasn’t really a problem, and then they promptly hung up. But much to my delight, they called back just a few minutes later, so the game could continue. I pressed 5 and waited my turn again. And this time the voice on the other end asked me if I had student loans. I said that I assumed they knew I did, since they had called me about this issue. Again…a hang up.
The student loan people have not called me back since that day. My game wasn’t much fun. I’ve had financial aid administrator friends keeps folks like this on the line for up to half an hour. My experience pales by comparison. But the message was received. Phone scammers are out there, disguised as student loan consolidators. Beware if you get a call from these folks. They are not trying to help you. And if you do have questions or concerns about your student loans, your answers are best found with either your loan servicer or your friendly neighborhood Financial Aid Director in suite 105 of the Katz Building. And never give out any personal information on a telephone call you did not initiate.