U of U and BYU warn students after FBI alert regarding loan payment scam

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Colleges around the state have a warning after the FBI sent out an alert regarding a scam targeting students.

The callers in this scam, the FBI reports, spoof the telephone number on the caller ID and then ask the student to repay a student loan.

The University of Utah and Brigham Young University sent out warnings to students about the scam, saying the FBI was fielding cases in a number of states.

In the U of U alert, it states the scammer will claim to be an FBI agent, and in some cases will threaten the student with arrest or not graduating from school if the student doesn't pay.

The Utah Division of Consumer Protection said this time of year makes the student population especially vulnerable.

"Graduation's coming," Director Daniel O'Bannon said. "I understand that people would get nervous if they get a phone call saying they're not going to graduate if they owe money."

He said the scammer might get aggressive and invoke fear, in hopes the student will give in and pay up. O'Bannon said the caller asks the person to wire money, through MoneyGram, Western Union or another electronic payment site.

But the most important thing to do? Slow down, he said, and figure out if the request is real.

"The best thing you can do is hang up the phone and call whoever it is they say they're from," O'Bannon said. "So if they say that they are talking about your student loan, call your loan servicer, or call the Department of Education, call your school's financial aid office."

The U of U also sent out tips to students in its email warning:

  • Never give out personal information to someone you didn't initially contact
  • Be wary if the caller avoids questions or makes demands
  • Only sign up for a contest or email list when a business has a policy of not sharing or selling your information to a third party

If you do get a scam phone call, O'Bannon said hang up, then report it to law enforcement or the Utah Division of Consumer Protection.

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