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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – “The first thing I noticed was that he said, ‘Dear, my first name.’ Then it says your loan is up to $36,000. Well, that’s not too far off, but that’s not the exact number,” said Scott Criscione, Lindenwood University Class of 2014.
Criscione said he knew something was wrong with a letter he received offering student loan consolidation and payment reduction.
“I looked at it and they want your student financial aid ID, other IDs,” he said.
Criscione dug deeper. His search led him to the Ministry of Education.
“I called the DOE and said, ‘Hey, what’s this? The girl replied, “We heard that one before. It’s a fake,” he said.
The loan consolidation offered by “Assure Direct Services” is not really fake, for example, its services are simply not really necessary.
The fine print at the bottom of the letter received by Criscione indicates that ADS is not affiliated with the government or any of its programs. He goes on to acknowledge that the very service he charges you for can be obtained for free from the government.
“If you decide to pay for help, that’s fine, but you need to know exactly what you’re getting,” said Robert Farrington, founder of TheCollegeInvestor.com.
Farrington said he sees many borrowers having trouble with companies selling something that doesn’t actually exist. He said companies make promises they can’t commit to and then the borrower gets into trouble. Unfortunately, the borrower often doesn’t realize they’re in trouble until maybe six months or a year later, after they’ve already paid the fees up front.
It’s a problem Criscione won’t have to worry about.
“Don’t just trust a piece of paper in the mail that you could easily skim and that is sent out to the masses,” he said.
If you decide you still want to pay a company to prepare and advise you through the loan consolidation process, Robert Farrington recommends doing your homework. Make sure you know exactly what you are paying for and what you are getting as there are many night flight companies in the industry.
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