For federal student loan borrowers: Things to know, and watch out for scammers

More than 28 million federal student loan borrowers are scheduled to restart payments or begin making them for the first time in October. The return of monthly federal loan payments arrives after a pause of three-plus years during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To learn more about the payment requirements, read our full story about the questions raised by borrowers and advocates. Borrowers say they’re noticing confusing information about payments

Here are some things for borrowers to know.

Experts say borrowers should make sure they know who is serving their federal student loan, as many loans have been transferred in recent years. That means a different company may be handling the billing and answering questions.

There’s a 12-month “on ramp” to help borrowers transition to payments, but those who miss a payment should be aware that they’ll still be charged interest, causing balances to grow. Interest on federal student loans was suspended during the payment pause, but started to accrue again in September.

Borrowers should beware of scammers. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators warns borrowers to never pay an outside entity for student loan help because resources are available at no charge from loan servicers and the U.S. Department of Education.

Borrowers should avoid sharing personal information, such as a password, over the phone unless they made the contact.

Fraudsters will try to create a false sense of urgency to trick people into giving them information, but the association said valid student loan relief programs don’t have pressing deadlines. Instead, participation in those programs is based on other eligibility requirements.