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Consumers must be wary of the threat of debt relief scams

A college education can prepare an individual for a great many challenges, but few students are prepared for the heavy load of debt that they will face shortly after graduation. In some cases, they will struggle for years to learn to manage that debt, and some will experience stress and anxiety as they try to make their student loan payments every month. Faced with a serious need for debt relief, many Washington residents are at risk of falling victim to debt relief scams.

One such operation has been halted by the federal government after scamming more than $11 million from individuals across the nation. The company, known as Strategic Student Solutions, promised students significant debt relief. In addition to reducing or eliminating student loan debt, the company also made promises of credit repair and other services.

Consumers were asked to make an upfront payment for various "fees" before services would begin. Then, they made monthly payments from that point forward. While the company offered to assist with negotiating income-driven repayment plans or loan forgiveness programs, consumers received little to no help for their investment. In some cases, they emerged from the experience owing more than when they started.

The Federal Trade Commission has stopped the company from further operation, and the owners will face charges in a court of law. The FTC is not yet certain how many consumers were defrauded by Strategic Student Solutions, but it urges people to avoid any debt relief scheme in which fees must be paid upfront. For those in Washington who are worried about their own student debt, it may be time to research other options, up to and including personal bankruptcy.

Source: ksdk.com, "Feds halt alleged student loan debt relief scam", Kevin McCoy, May 25, 2017

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