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Scams target college students

Published: Monday, July 28, 2014 5:04 p.m. CST • Updated: Monday, July 28, 2014 5:12 p.m. CST

PRINCETON — A scam alert has been issued targeting college students and their families.

On Monday, Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson said he has not heard of any local victims of the recent scam targeting people with college loans, but he is aware of the work being done by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on this scam.

Madigan testified Thursday before the U.S. Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee about her efforts to crack down on abuses and scams targeting the millions of Americans with student loan debt. Madigan wants Congress to institute stronger federal protections including loan refinancing options and universal standards for loan servicers to help borrowers struggling to repay their student loan debt.

According to a press release issued by her office, Madigan filed the first lawsuits in the country targeting a new industry of student loan debt relief scams. The lawsuits, filed against the Chicago-based First American Tax Defense LLC and Texas-based Broadsword Student Advantage LLC, allege the companies sought to scam student loan borrowers into paying as much as $1,200 upfront for bogus debt relief services, including assistance enrolling in a fake “Obama forgiveness program,” or for government services that are already free of charge.

Madigan is also involved in a multi-state investigation into the student loan servicer Sallie Mae (now called Navient), due to a growing number of complaints to her office about alleged loan repayment options and abusive debt collection practices.

When it comes to Bureau County residents looking for financial assistance for college, Thompson recommended students and their families look to their local financial institutions when it comes to getting college loans. Any unsolicited information coming from outside the area could be potentially harmful to the family, the sheriff said.

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