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You Should Never Pay an Upfront Fee for Student Loan Debt Relief

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Illustration for article titled You Should Never Pay an Upfront Fee for Student Loan Debt Relief

Illustration: Leremy (Shutterstock)

Americans owe $1.67 trillion in student loans, and rapacious private companies or outright scam artists are rampant, luring borrowers with offers of debt elimination or reduced payments. If you are asked to directly pay an upfront fee before you see student debt relief, stay clear. It’s a scam.

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How to know if a debt relief offer is a scam 

Not all debt relief companies offering to consolidate your loans are scamming you, but they might feel like it. These companies can aggressively advertise on Facebook and Google, or they might reach you by phone. Typically they fill out paperwork on your behalf and charge you extra for something that’s otherwise free to do on your own, so remember that government repayment program enrollments can be done directly through the US Department of Education or their loan servicer. Visit the Federal Student Aid site for more details (for private loans, contact your loan company directly).

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Debt relief companies are considered fraudulent when they charge you for a service and then don’t do what they promised. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to identify fraudsters offering debt relief.

Don’t pay an upfront cost or monthly payments

When a student loan company offers you an enticing interest rate or loan terms then demands an upfront fee, it’s a scam. The fee can be in the form of a small percentage of the loan amount, monthly fees, or a flat rate of a few thousand dollars, or even a second, personal loan that you “repay.” It’s illegal for student debt relief companies to collect fees before they lower or settle a customer’s loans.

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Don’t trust promises of immediate loan forgiveness 

Student loan companies can’t promise immediate student loan forgiveness or cancellation. There are legitimate loan forgiveness government programs, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness, but they require years of qualifying payments or qualifying employment before loans can be forgiven. Watch out for any company that claims to have a special relationship with the Department of Education (they don’t).

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Never share your FSA ID password or other personal information 

Never share your FSA ID with anyone, as it has the same legal status as a written signature. Nor should you give out your social security number, which is not needed. This data gives the businesses the ability to sign into your account and make decisions on your behalf. If you think you’ve spotted a scam, report it to the FTC, CFPB, and your state attorney general’s office.

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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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Apple will replace AirPods Pro for free with faulty noise cancellation, static or crackling

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Today, exactly one year after Apple first launched the AirPods Pro — and thus the same day the very first AirPods Pro owners will see their one-year warranties expire — Apple has launched a repair program that offers free repairs or replacements for another whole year if your AirPods Pro experience issues with noise cancellation or static.

Specifically, Apple will fix:

Crackling or static sounds that increase in loud environments, with exercise or while talking on the phone

Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected, such as a loss of bass sound, or an increase in background sounds, such as street or airplane noise

Apple says only a “small percentage of AirPods Pro” are affected by the issues, but it apparently wasn’t just an early batch — Apple says affected units were manufactured “before October 2020,” meaning every AirPods Pro ever made might be eligible. That’s quite a recall if so. Apple says it will repair faulty AirPods Pro for two years after you first buy them.

We’ve heard complaints about degraded noise cancellation before, and at least one Verge editor has replaced their AirPods Pro under warranty. It’s nice to hear that Apple isn’t just cutting buyers off as soon as that warranty expires.

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This 55″ 4K TCL Smart TV Hangs on Your Wall for $200

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

TCL 55″ S434 4K Smart TV | $200 | Best Buy

Best Buy has an insane deal going for a brand new 55″ 4K TCL smart TV. It’s the S434, which is pretty baseline for TCL’s lineup, but at just $200, there’s little to complain about. TCL’s panels are plenty sharp and accurate, and with this set, you’ll get HDR10 compliance for enhanced color and brightness in supported games and video content. This model has Android TV onboard for all your app needs, and with an included voice remote, all your favorite content is just a shout away with the help of Google Assistant.

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