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Attorney General Ellison opens investigation into 52 student-loan debt-relief companies

Suspected of violating consumer-protection laws and not registering as required by law

September 5, 2023 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that his Office has opened investigations into 52 student-loan debt-relief companies suspected of violating Minnesota law. Many of these companies are headquartered in California, and they appear to offer debt-settlement services to consumers without registering as required by Minnesota law. The companies are also suspected of violating consumer-protection laws by misrepresenting their fees and services and falsely promising student-loan forgiveness, which only the federal government can offer. The Attorney General’s Office sent letters to each of the 52 companies requesting information on the companies’ operations in Minnesota. A complete list of the companies suspected of violating Minnesota law in this enforcement sweep is at the end of this release.

This action follows more than a dozen enforcement actions the Attorney General’s Office has taken to shut down fraudulent student-loan debt-relief companies in April 2016, July 2016, October 2016, February 2018, September 2019, October 2019, April 2020, September 2020, January 2021, April 2021, October 2022, November 2022, and February 2023. The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office has recovered and returned millions of dollars to Minnesota consumers that fraudulent student-loan debt-relief companies have victimized.

“Minnesotans just want to be able to afford their lives, and the cost of student loans that too many borrowers have to take out is already too high. The fact that fraudsters prey on borrowers by charging exorbitant fees and making promises they can’t deliver on is offensive. We’ve held companies like this accountable before and we’re doing it again,” Attorney General Ellison said. “I encourage any Minnesotan who’s been preyed upon by a company promising to help them forgive their student loans to contact my office so we can hold that company accountable.”

The Attorney General’s Office worked with the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid to identify many of the companies.

"We are grateful for our strong partnership with Attorney General Ellison and his team,” said Federal Student Aid (FSA) Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray. “We will continue to fight debt-relief companies that scam hardworking individuals in The North Star State and across the country. I join the Attorney General in urging federal student loan borrowers in Minnesota to contact his office for assistance.”

People who want to report fraudulent behavior by or other experiences with student-loan debt-relief companies may contact Attorney General Ellison’s office by calling (651) 296-3353 (Metro area) or (800) 657-3787 (Greater Minnesota), by completing a Consumer Assistance Request Form online, or by writing the Office at 445 Minnesota St., Suite 1400, Saint Paul MN 55101.

Attorney General Ellison offers guidance on return to repayment, how to spot a scam

Attorney General Ellison has also issued new guidance so Minnesotans can understand their rights and obligations as student loan payments resume for federal student loans this fall. This new guidance, in the form of an FAQ, joins other resources for student-loan borrowers on the Attorney General’s website.

More than three years after student-loan payments were paused, interest on student loans began accruing again on September 1, 2023, with first payments due in October. This means that if you have student loans and are not in school (or did not leave school within the last six months), you will receive notice from the U.S. Department of Education with your payment amount at least 21 days before your payment due date.

As the end of the student-loan payment pause nears, Attorney General Ellison wants borrowers to be well-informed about the details of their loans and take precautions to avoid bad actors who may take advantage of borrowers.

“The return to repayment on federal student loans will create challenges for many Minnesotans and their families who will now have a large new monthly expense,” said Attorney General Ellison. “Making things worse, bad actors will seek to take advantage of borrowers' uncertainty and financial insecurities. I’ve issued this guidance because I want to make sure all Minnesota borrowers know their rights and are on the lookout for scams as we approach the resumption of student-loan payments.”

The FAQ includes guidance about red flags that borrowers may encounter from potential student-loan scammers. Those red flags include:

• Promises of immediate loan forgiveness or cancellation.

o Student loan debt relief companies have no ability to forgive your student loans. Any changes to federal student-loan repayment plans will be made through one of the government’s official loan servicers.

• Asking you to sign a power of attorney form.

• High up-front fees to apply to loan-repayment programs.

• Pressures you into acting immediately by instilling a sense of urgency.

o Phrases may include “Call Now!” “Get Your Student Loans Forgiven Now!” “Guaranteed Results!” or “Savings Plan Available for a Limited Time Only!”

• Statements about relationships with the government.

• Requests for a student’s Federal Student Aid username and password for services.

o The U.S. Department of Education advises borrowers against sharing their account log-in credentials.

“Borrowers should never pay for help with their federal student loans,” said FSA Chief Cordray. “Our servicers provide free assistance with all aspects of loan repayment, such as changing repayment plans, consolidating loans, and helping borrowers understand whether they are eligible for any loan forgiveness programs.”

List of student-loan debt-relief companies targeted in enforcement sweep

Below is the list of the 52 student-loan debt-relief companies that Attorney General Ellison’s Office is targeting in this enforcement sweep.

1. 77 Elite LLC

2. ABS (A Better Solution) Student Loans

3. Allied Enrollment Centers LLC

4. Allied Financial Services

5. Alum Financial LLC, aka Grads Financial

6. Alumni Help Center

7. Alumni Support Center

8. American Doc Prep, Inc.

9. American Processing Support

10. Amerifed Doc Prep, LLC

11. Certified Enrollment Center

12. Client Processing Services

13. Cornerstone Doc Pre

14. Criner Financial Group LLC

15. Debt Relief Assistance Plus

16. Documents Done Right

17. Docupros, aka United Specialists

18. Education Financial

19. ENM Consulting Services LLC

20. Fed Pro, aka Fed Help LLC

21. Federal Document Assistance Center LLC

22. Federal Document Preparation Services LLC

23. Federal Student Loan Doc Prep LLC

24. Financial Student Services LLC

25. First Fidelity Services LLC, aka Mabak Enterprises LLC

26. Freedom Financial Aid

27. Graduate Doc Center

28. Liberty Student Loan Forgiveness

29. Loan Forgiveness Enrollment Center

30. Marketing Services

31. National Budget Planners of South Florida, Inc.

32. National Debt Education Relief

33. National Debt Relief LLC

34. National Student Loan Relief, aka My Payment Help Center LLC

35. Network 46, Inc.

36. Processing Direct, aka Student Loan Processing Direct

37. Riverwalk Financial Corporation

38. Skyway Financial Group

39. SL Finance

40. Student Advisors

41. Student Loan & Savings, aka CT Financial Services

42. Student Loan Doc

43. Student Loan Financial Assistance LLC, aka NextStep Financial Debt Settlement LLC

44. Student Prep Center, aka Common Key

45. Student Renew LLC

46. Students Service Center

47. Unified Document Services LLC

48. United Students of America

49. US Debt Relief

50. U.S. Financial, aka Graduate Resource Network

51. US Processing Solutions, aka TWZII, Inc.

52. USA Student Debt Relief

 

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