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Student loan scams reaching Chippewa Valley phones

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EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - People across the Chippewa Valley, including the staff at WQOW, have received a voicemail saying they're pre-qualified for student loan forgiveness.

"I'm actually just doing a follow up call for you regarding your public student loans," the caller says. "I do see here we still have you pre-qualified for the student loan forgiveness program."

This call was even received by a WQOW staff member who has no student loans. Director of investigations for the Better Business Bureau serving Wisconsin Lisa Schiller said there are a lot of red flags to this call.

"First of all, the fact that they called on the phone. I mean, if you are eligible for a student loan forgiveness program of any sort you are not going to get a phone call from some unidentifiable person," Schiller said.

And while student loan forgiveness does exist, Schiller said those programs are through the federal government, you have to apply for it, and few people qualify. That, on top of the vagueness of who it is that is calling you, is a huge red flag.

Schiller said when people receive calls like these they are likely seeking not just money, but your identity.

"They'll want your name, they'll probably ask for bank account information, social security information, address, phone number, who knows," Schiller said. "With just a minimal amount of information you would be surprised with how much scammers can do with that information."

And at the Eau Claire Police Department, scam calls like this are far from new.

"The best thing in these kinds of situations is to just get off the phone as soon as possible," said Public Information Officer with the Eau Claire Police Department Joshua Miller. "The longer someone keeps you on the phone, the more they might convince you to give them money, passwords, something like that. These calls are almost always fake. People aren't going to be calling you with these types of offers, so the sooner you can get off the phone the better."

And unfortunately, officer Miller said there is not a lot they can do for those who do fall victim to these types of scams.

"The chances of recovering any kind of money and actually prosecuting someone are few and far between," he said.

If you receive a call about student loans, Schiller and Miller said to call the institution your loan is through and see if the call you received is legitimate.

If you have received this call, Schiller recommends notifying the BBB by clicking/tapping here. You can also report the call to the Federal Trade Commission by clicking/tapping here.

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Felicity Bosk

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