Student Loan Forgiveness Scams
When President Biden announced his plan to cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt last month – it was a boon to borrowers and scammers alike.
Individuals earning under $125,000 a year and couples making less than $250,000 can get up to $10,000 in student loans forgiven. That amount doubles for those who had a Pell Grant. In addition, the administration is also extending the student loan pause through the end of the year.
New Opportunity For Crooks
Over $100 million is scammed from college students and graduates in a typical year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Half of that amount is from fraudulent student loans. Student loan forgiveness offers criminals a chance to increase that number dramatically.
If you have a student loan, you may have already been contacted via text, email, or phone by someone offering to expedite loan forgiveness. If so, you have been in touch with a scammer. The government will not contact you by phone about student loan forgiveness.
Do Not Be A Victim
Knowledge is power. Here is what you need to know to protect yourself from student loan con artists:
- Do not pay for services in advance. Upfront charges by student debt relief companies are against the law.
- There is no such thing as guaranteed or expedited student loan forgiveness. Anyone promising those things is trying to steal your money.
- Looks can be deceiving. Scammers often use official-looking symbols to appear legitimate. Do not trust any company that can not be confirmed on the studentaid.gov website.
Know Before You Go
Scammers want you to act quickly without thinking things through. They will tell you action is required because “time is running out.” Do not fall for such tactics. Below is a timeline for student loan forgiveness and more resources you can use to stay up to date.
You can ensure you get up-to-date information on student loan forgiveness by going to the student aid website mentioned above. In addition, you can get up to the minute update by signing up for U. S. Department of Education email notifications. Click “NEW!! Federal Student Loan Borrower Update”.
Used Car Prices Finally Falling
They jumped during the pandemic and have held record high levels even during record inflation. However, used car prices are finally dropping.
In August, used car prices declined to an average price of $33,414, according to CoPilot, an automobile shopping app. The drop was a move to maintain sales, according to CoPilot’s September Return to Normal Index.
With chip supply problems and labor shortages, the production of new cars decreased during the pandemic. As a result, new car prices soared and many buyers turned to the used car market. In turn, used car prices vaulted on the increased demand.
On Going Trend
Edmunds, another online car research and shopping resource, says used car prices began dropping a couple of months ago. Researching over 200 three-year-old models, Edmunds found that 92.8% experienced a 4.6 percent price decrease in July.
Data from Edmunds shows the average price of one to three-year-old cars at $31,302, slightly less than CoPilot’s. However, both firms see a trend toward lower prices.
“Although these price drops are not earth-shattering,” says Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds’ executive director of insights, “they should be a welcome reprieve for consumers compared to the continued higher cost of new car purchases or leases.”
Buy Now Or Wait
Usually, a price drop is a time to buy. That may be true of the used car market, but researchers say there is no rush.
“It’s encouraging to see price peaks now showing up in the rearview mirror for the first time in a while, but possibly the most positive development for consumers is a reduction in pressure to buy immediately,” said Ivan Drury, Edmunds’ senior manager of insights.
“Until a few months ago, those unwilling to commit to a purchase in the moment were often beaten to the punch by the next shopper and left with even higher prices in the weeks and months that followed. Knowing that prices are trending down from all-time highs, consumers can breathe a small sigh of relief since they’ll have more time to conduct research and visit a few dealerships before a purchase.”
“The story is evolving,” adds CoPilot Founder Pat Ryan, “ but we recommend shoppers should prepare to strike when they find a car that matches their needs, and be closely looking out for the moment soon when prices may fall off even more substantially. In many cases, buyers will already find they finally have more negotiating leverage at the dealer.”
Real Estate Market Alive And . . .
Mark Twain was contacted by a newspaper reporter regarding reports that the writer had died in London. He responded with a letter that concluded with the line, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”
Likewise, reports of the demise of the real estate market are an exaggeration.
This year the average home price topped $400,000 for the first time in May. In addition, the median price has stayed above that mark each month since.
“The median existing-home price for all housing types in July was $403,800, up 10.8% from July 2021 ($364,600), as prices increased in all regions,” reports the National Association of Realtors (NRA). “This marks 125 consecutive months of year-over-year increases, the longest-running streak on record.”
Though average sales prices have remained high, sales have begun to slide.
Sales dropped 5.9 percent from June to July, according to the NAR. Year-over-year, sales fell 20.2 percent In July. At the same time, the inventory of houses on the market increased 4.8 percent in July to 1,310,000.
“We’re witnessing a housing recession in terms of declining home sales and home building,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “However, it’s not a recession in home prices. Inventory remains tight and prices continue to rise nationally with nearly 40% of homes still commanding the full list price.”
The tight real estate market is indicated by the time it takes a home to sell. In both June and July, the average home was on the market for 14 days. That is the quickest sales rate since the NAR began tracking days on the market in 2011.
What Is Ahead
The real estate market is consistent in its inconsistencies. Prices may be moderating, but remain high. The number of buyers has decreased. However, there are still enough buyers to meet the supply.
Even more, buyers may be able to enter the market as mortgage rates have dropped to 5.4 percent. In addition, the NRA is predicting a five percent decline in home prices through the end of the year. That would put the median price at $380,000.
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Max K. Erkiletian began writing for newspapers while still in high school. He went on to become an award-winning journalist and co-founder of the print magazine Free Bird. He has written for a wide range of regional and national publications as well as many on-line publications. That has afforded him the opportunity to interview a variety of prominent figures from former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank Paul Volker to Blues musicians Muddy Waters and B. B. King. Max lives in Springfield, MO with his wife Karen and their two cats. He spends as much time as possible with his kids, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.