EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) – Residents of the Chippewa Valley, including WQOW employees, received a voicemail that they were prequalified for a student loan forgiveness.
“I’m actually just calling you about your government student loans,” the caller says. “I see that you are still prequalified for the student loan forgiveness program.”
Even a WQOW employee who does not have student loans received the call. Lisa Schiller, investigator for the Wisconsin-based Better Business Bureau, said the call has a lot of red flags.
“First of all, the fact that they called by phone. I mean, if you’re eligible for any kind of student loan forgiveness program, you won’t be called by some unknown person, ”Schiller said.
And while student loan forgiveness does exist, Schiller said that these programs are implemented through the federal government, you have to apply for it, and few people are eligible. This, in addition to the obscurity of who is calling you, represents a huge red flag.
Schiller said that when people receive calls like this, they are probably looking not only for money, but also for your identity.
“They’ll need your name, they’ll probably ask for bank account information, social security information, address, phone number, who knows,” Schiller said. “With a minimal amount of information, you would be surprised how much scammers can do with that information.”
And at Eau Claire Police Department, such fraudulent calls are far from new.
“The best thing in these situations is to end the phone call as soon as possible,” said Joshua Miller, a public information officer at the Eau Claire Police Department. “The longer someone keeps you on the phone, the more they can convince you to give them money, passwords, etc. the sooner you finish the phone, the better.”
And, unfortunately, Officer Miller said that there is little they can do for those who are indeed the victims of this kind of scam.
“The chances of getting any money back and actually harassing someone are very small and varying,” he said.
If they call you about student loans, Schiller and Miller will advise you to call the institution through which you received the loan and see if the call you received is legitimate.