Justice

How Blac Chyna Is Helping to Scam Student Loan Borrowers

January 4th 2017

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

Black Chyna is under the microscope for promoting a costly "student loan forgiveness" program that the federal government already offers for free.

The reality star, whose birth name is Angela Renee White, posted an ad on her Instagram account Wednesday telling her millions of followers to call "Obama's Student Loan Forgiveness" to reduce their federal student loans.

Blac Chyna's Instagram post about "Obama's Student Loan Forgiveness."

The number directs people to a company that charges money for a free federal program.

However, as Andy Josuweit, co-founder and CEO of Student Loan Hero, told CNBC in August 2016 that "there's no such thing as 'Obama student loan forgiveness.'"

Person holding phone

Jezebel's Gabrielle Bluestone reported that the entertainer had previously posted and ad for student loan forgiveness in December, but deleted it.

ATTN: called the number in Blac Chyna's ad and spoke to a customer service representative.

After a conversation about the amount of federal loan debt owed, the representative estimated that the company could get "payment relief" that would lower monthly payments for a one time fee of $495, based on the current rules from the Obama administration. To be clear, the Department of Education already offers programs for reduced monthly payments for free.

The representative then sent a follow-up email to a personal email address ATTN: provided by phone. The email was from something called The Student Loan Relief Department.

Screenshot of an email from the Student Debt Relief Department.

At the bottom of the SLRD website's homepage there is a disclaimer stating that the company is not actually affiliated with the Department of Education, despite the fact that potential customers were directed to the page from a a company advertising itself as "Obama's Student Loan Forgiveness."

Fake "Obama Student Loan" ads are common.

The Better Business Bureau sent out a warning in February last year about private companies advertising an affiliation with an Obama administration student loan program.

"Many claim that their service is made possible by a new government program or policy sponsored by U.S. President Barack Obama," the press release states. "The company asks for an upfront fee to negotiate with your student loan lender on your behalf. They will claim they've helped numerous other clients, but don't believe them!"

handful-of-cash

A survey of more than 6,000 respondents last year by Nerdwallet and Student Debt Crisis found that 60 percent of respondents had seen an ad charging for student loan debt relief and 9 percent had paid for such a service.

To clarify once again: you don't need to pay to consolidate and reduce monthly federal student loan payments.

In January of last year, the DOE Secretary John King sent out a warning about federal loan scams in a Youtube video.

"Don't be fooled," he warned. "You never have to pay for help managing your federal student loan debt."

The Department of Education offers free Income Driven Repayment Plans for federal loans. The monthly amounts are based on income, so if you don't have a job, the monthly payment could potentially be $0.

Chart of Income Driven Repayment plans.

ATTN: reached out to the Student Loan Relief Department and we will update the story if we hear back.

RELATED: Here's How You Can Lower Your Monthly Student Loan Payment