This piece was originally published at Forbes.
When you look at student loan debt statistics, the picture is pretty scary. With more than $1 trillion in outstanding student loans, it’s no surprise that millions of Americans feel trapped.
You might be one of those graduates feeling trapped by student loan debt. The thought of that debt hanging over your head for years to come can have you looking for a solution that takes the stress away.
The good news is that there are plenty of programs available to help you manage and repay your student loans. The bad news is that, like so many things in life, there are people out there looking to take advantage of your situation, too.
As you consider how you can get a handle on your student loan debt, make sure you are working with a reputable company. Watch for these signs of a student loan scam:
1. Upfront payment required
One of the biggest signs of a student loan scam is the requirement for upfront payment. Anyone who asks you to pay for student loan debt relief before any services have been performed is likely a scammer.
There are plenty of resources that don’t charge you for student loan debt help. In fact, in some states, it’s illegal to charge fees for debt settlement services. If a company promises to settle your student loan debt or consolidate your loans for an upfront fee, hang up the phone immediately.
2. Promises of student loan forgiveness
Another common student loan scam is the promise of student loan forgiveness through a private company. Examples include the “Obama Student Loan Forgiveness” program and the Student Loan Relief Center that gained attention earlier this year via Blac Chyna’s Instagram posts.
Neither of these are legitimate federal programs that result in student loan forgiveness. In fact, no private company that advertises a “special program” to help you get forgiveness at a cost is legitimate…