Scammers are taking aim at consumers shopping at this time of year, as well as at student loan borrowers.
At this time of year, identity protection products can be particularly helpful to consumers, said a recent news release from Allstate, cautioning consumers about criminals targeting holiday shoppers and federal student loan borrowers.
About a tenth of Americans have been victims of scams having to do with federal student debt forgiveness.
About two in five of the student loan scam victims are contacted a minimum of once per week, according to the “Identity Fraud in Focus” quarterly report issued by Allstate Identity Protection. The findings in the report arrived at a time in which legal battles have left millions of borrowers of student loans trapped in limbo.
Scammers are taking advantage of that issue by calling borrowers with promises of assisting them to have their student loans forgiven, discharged, cancelled, or to provide debt relief in exchange for a fee if the borrower “acts fast.”
“You don’t have to pay anyone to obtain debt relief. The application from the Department of Education is free and you can do it all yourself,” said the insurer’s Restoration Manager Vera Tolmachoff.
The Identity Protection report showed that the majority of scams are taking place over the phone.
Most student loan debt relief scams take place over the phone, though emails and texts are also popular and are becoming more commonplace.
That said, this year, online holiday shopping scams have also become an important issue as well. Consumers are advised to be aware of this problem and to take precautions to protect themselves. The report also pointed to holiday shopping scams, finding that the theft of personal information has become the most expensive form of fraud.
More than half the participants of the Allstate survey reported losing as much as $249. Among holiday shopping scams, the most common is in the form of sending money for an item that never arrives.
“Consumers have to be really careful over the holidays,” advised Brian Stuart, Allstate Identity Protection Director of Customer Care. “Watch out for prices that seem impossibly low, make sure to only shop on secure sites, and always embrace a healthy skepticism.”