I was sent a "Final Notice" in the mail from an unidentified agency; the only given name was the "Certified Documents Center." In the letter, they told me I had until my next loan payment to contact them regarding consolidation. They don't have a website you can check, and on the letter they tell you to create or verify your federal student aid about (FSA) which gives the impression that they're offering you their website, but really that's the FSA website, so they don't give you a website to verify their credibility.
Red flags everywhere already.
So I called, they asked for my information, contact references, and my dob and social. Another red flag: they didn't ask for the last four digits but rather the whole number. They seem knowledgeable and helpful the entire time, so it's easy to fall into a sense of trust that they're legit--they're NOT.
The woman who I spoke with, Stephanie, gave me her "direct line," which I called multiple times during their supposed business hours, but it went straight to a generic voicemail. The number I was given was 866-493-2790.
After getting a ton of sensitive information, they then told me I qualified for consolidation, but that it would cost me $1,000, but that they could apply reductions I qualified for to bring it down to $899. Then they said I could pay in two installments, and when I became hesitant about it, she then offered to split the payment into three installments.
Ultimately I didn't agree to paying the amount or offering any card information, which they didn't ask for, but which I'm sure they were building up to.
Bottom line, if you aren't contacted by your university or loan provider directly about consolidation, then it's probably a scam. Do your research before you call. Don't fall into a trap.
No money taken.
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