FBI Warns: New Phishing Scam Steals Students’ Data
The new relief for the Federal Student Aid program has been garnering a lot of attention among students, who are eager for the promised deduction from their burdensome student loans. Meanwhile, even hackers on the dark web are presumably tuned in to the monetary assistance, which presents a treasure trove of private data that would be stolen by dark web criminal gangs.
With the looming attack against student loan borrowers, the FBI has stepped up its campaign warning individuals about being targeted by threat actors, as they sign up for the Federal Student Aid program.
President Joe Biden introduced the loan reduction initiative in August 2022, with the acceptance of applications starting October 20, 2022. The US government promised to remove between $10,000 and $20,000 from the amount of money owed by American students. But this also depends on if they received the Pell Grant that students do not have to repay.
Student Loan Relief Act
Today, qualified recipients are extremely excited about the much needed assistance, which would help them better manage their student loan debt.
However, all things monetary are bound to draw the attention of criminal hackers, scammers have already realized their own financial gain, as they are given a wonderful chance to steal private data that could be sold on dark web marketplaces. The hacking community is expected to create a barrage of phony websites, with a similar application form to reel in unsuspecting victims.
And along with hackers’ phishing websites, other forms of scams are expected to evolve, such as SMS text messages, and phishing emails. These are anticipated to flood US citizens’ phone and email inboxes, informing targeted individuals about “benefit eligibility”.
Cyber criminals, as usual, are expected to employ a wide assortment of fraudulent methods in an effort to defraud US consumers. Furthermore, the fraudsters are expected to target social media followers, to trick them into stealing their payment information.
Student Loan Relief Application
Additionally, in some instances, the hackers may even ask for money upfront to assist with accessing the Federal Student Loan Forgiveness program.
So far, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued warnings not to become victims of these malicious hackers. The FBI has warned about hackers “contacting potential victims via phone, email, mail, text, fake websites, or other online chat services.
According to the FBI, criminals utilize scamming schemes asking for cash in exchange for services that they blatantly cannot provide. Also, they are nefarious at collecting unsuspecting victims’ information, which is later used for other criminal activities.
Student Loan Relief Program
The official debt relief website is studentaid.gov. Students are warned to only access the website provided by the US government. They must, at all cost, avoid any requests for payment to enroll in the program. Individuals are also warned not to pay anyone to submit an application on their behalf, as they can freely apply at the listed website for the program.
Additionally, the real application process is quite straightforward, and students are not asked to upload any personal or financial information, nor asked to register into any accounts.
Again, be wary of criminal hackers, they are more likely to seek out potential victims by phone, email, mail, text, fraudulent websites, social media platforms, or other means of online communication services.
Student Loan Relief Website
Beneficiaries will be contacted via the following email addresses if more information or documents are required during the next phase: firstname.lastname@example.org. and email@example.com, in addition to firstname.lastname@example.org
The U.S. government also warned beneficiaries that it would not send emails, phone calls, or SMS messages about the relief program’s application. Any of these forms of communication received are from criminal scammers.
Borrowers are encouraged to be cautious when responding to incoming correspondence and to follow Federal Student Aid on social media for program updates and, possibly, timely fraud alerts.
With the expectation of an increase in new phishing campaigns, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provided advice on how to avoid the expected scams.
The official application for the debt relief program can only be submitted online at studentaid.gov.
For qualified Individuals, the criteria of the Federal Student Aid program, your income must not exceed $125,000 annually.