Local woman loses thousands from student debt relief fraud

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With graduation right around the corner, many graduates will have student loans.

Scammers are now looking for opportunities to take advantage of that.

A local woman lost thousands of dollars from a student loan forgiveness company.

Megan Begnaud graduated from college in 2015. She then received a phone call from a company called Student Loan Counsel to handle forgiveness of her student loans.

They made it sound awesome, but four years and $2,000 later, she realized it was a scam.

Begnaud said, “Looking back, I can see now how they reeled me in.”

It was what every college graduate wants to hear… a company promising they would be able to get rid of their student loans.

“I had to sign lots of documents and I guess I read over them, but this is four years ago, and reading it now, it’s almost like, ‘how did I sign this,'” explained Begnaud.

Megan says she had to pay money upfront… $200 for three months and a monthly fee of $39.00.

“I was still having to pay them their processing fee which I thought was for the loan. They never told me ($)39 is for the processing fee. I was told it’s all going to your loan… no.”

Chris Babin, with the Better Business Bureau Serving Acadiana, said, “Some of the things that could’ve tipped her off in the beginning was that they wanted an upfront payment and they asked her not to contact her current federal loan servicer.”

From November 2015 to March 2019, Megan says $39.00 was consistently being taken out of her bank account. However, recently, it jumped up to $84.00. She went to her bank and that’s when it all hit her.

“So they found out that it was a scam. They could only refund 90 days of what I paid, so the rest I figured out is about $2000,” added Begnaud.

Another catch, Megan says Student Loan Counsel told her not to contact her lender who consolidated her loans.

“The federal loan servicing companies can provide all of these options that this company was able to provide as a third-party by contacting them directly,” explained Babin.

Megan said, “The money that I spent for them doing something that I could’ve been doing by myself. That’s crucial because that could’ve been going to my loan.”

Megan says she sent a certified letter to the company which is based in California. Her letter was returned saying “vacant.”

They didn’t answer their direct line and emails didn’t go through.

She has no confirmation it’s all cancelled and they still have all of her information.

Here are some tips from the Better Business Bureau when it comes to student loan forgiveness claims:

  • Be proactive. If you’re interested in consolidating your existing student loans, contact the loan consolidation information call center.
  • Contact the company directly that is managing your loans.
  • Make sure you understand any offer made by the company and be alert to any verbal promises.
  • Lastly, ask what service the company is providing.

According to the Better Business Bureau, Student Loan Counsel has an “F” rating for not responding to numerous consumer complaints in similar situations.

If you have a scam you’d like me to investigate, feel free to send me an email at smasters@klfy.com.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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