Scam Alert: College, and the student loans to pay for it, are expensive enough without being cheated by companies claiming to reduce that loan debt for a fee.
Strategic Student Solutions and several related companies have been shut down by the Federal Trade Commission for falsely promising to reduce or eliminate student debt and offering non-existent credit repair services, for a monthly fee.
The FTC claims students, or their families, who signed up with Strategic Student Solutions got nothing, while Dave Green, owner of the companies, raked in some $11 million to buy himself expensive jewelry and luxury vehicles, pay casino tabs and mortgage payments, and build a swimming pool for his home.
Victims reportedly were charged illegal upfront fees as high as $1,200, plus monthly payments that typically totaled $49.99. Sadly, consumers often ended up farther behind on their payments than when they first signed up for the fraudulent services, says the FTC.
“Consumers who paid Strategic Student Solutions for help with their student loans watched their situations go from bad to worse,” Tom Pahl, acting director of the FTC’s consumer protection bureau, said in a written statement.
“The bottom line: never pay an up-front fee to a company promising to provide debt relief,” he warns.
- Scam Alert Tip – That’s good advice also for services promising to wipe out what you owe to to the IRS, your car loan company, your mortgage company, or your what you owe on credit cards.
Also named in the FTC complaint against Green and Strategic Student Solutions are his all allied companies, Strategic Credit Solutions LLC, Strategic Debt Solutions LLC, Strategic Doc Prep Solutions LLC, Student Relief Center LLC, and Credit Relief Center LLC.
All are charged with violating the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and the Credit Repair Organizations Act.
The FTC charges Strategic Student Solutions has been preying on and scamming student loan borrowers since 2014, by falsely promising to reduce their repayments or eliminate part of the debt by enrolling them in income-driving repayment plans or loan forgiveness programs.
How to file a claim against Strategic Student Solutions
If you have paid money to Strategic Student Solutions or Student Relief Center, contact your loan servicer immediately. Depending on the type of loans you have, you may want to discuss a repayment plan or other options for your situation.
To report a student loan debt relief scam, file a complaint with:
- the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint
- the CFPB at consumerfinance.gov/complaint
- Your state’s Attorney General’s office.
Warning Signs of a Debt Relief Scam
These tips are from the Federal Trade Commission
You should not have to pay an up-front fee. If you pay up-front to reduce or get rid of your student loan debt, you might not get any help or get your money back.
No one can promise total loan forgiveness. Even before they know the details of your situation, scammers might say they can get rid of your loans through a loan forgiveness program — programs most people won’t qualify for — or that they will wipe out your loans by disputing them.
Only scammers will tell you to stop paying your student loans. Sometimes scammers will tell you not to speak with your loan servicer, supposedly so they can negotiate a better settlement for you. But not paying student loans can damage your credit, and your loan balances could balloon. Just as important – there’s no guarantee the company will be able to get a settlement, or that the settlement will save you much.
A Department of Education seal doesn’t mean it’s legit. Scammers use official-looking names, seals and logos, and tell you they have special access to certain repayment plans, new federal loan consolidations, or loan forgiveness programs. If you have federal loans, go to the Department of Education directly at StudentAid.gov.
You have time to check out your options. To get you to act fast, scammers tell you that you could miss qualifying for repayment plans, loan consolidations, or loan forgiveness programs if you don’t sign up right away. Don’t be rushed into a bad decision.
Consolidating federal and private loans comes with a cost. Some companies will tell you they can lower your monthly payments or interest rate by combining your federal and private student loans. But they might not mention that, if you do, you’ll lose any benefits and protections offered by your federal loans.
Before you consolidate your loans, find out what it could mean for your specific situation. If you have private loans, talk to your loan servicer. For federal loans, call the Department of Education’s Loan Consolidation Information Call Center at 1-800-557-7392.
What do you think? We value your comments and love hearing from you.