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To help student loan borrowers avoid scams, NerdWallet is rounding up information on legitimate sources of help, like this one.
Organization: National Association of Consumer Advocates
Mission statement: The National Association of Consumer Advocates is a nationwide membership organization of more than 1,500 attorneys who represent hundreds of thousands of consumers victimized by fraudulent, abusive and predatory business practices. NACA itself does not provide legal services or advice. NACA is also a 501(c)(3) charitable and educational fund.
Location: Washington, D.C.
Best contact method: NACA is not able to provide legal advice or representation. Use the Find an Attorney directory to locate an attorney in your area who can assist you.
Areas of expertise: All student loan types.
It can help with: Finding an attorney who can help if you feel you have been taken advantage of by a lender or have fallen delinquent on your student loan payments.
It cannot help with: Providing legal services or advice. NACA provides links to attorneys, organizations and governmental entities that can provide help.
Cost to expect: None from NACA, which provides information and an attorney directory only. Individual attorneys will charge fees.
Policy on acting on the borrower’s behalf: Never. NACA provides information only.
If you need student loan help
If you’re struggling with student loan debt, first speak with your servicer or lender to:
Discuss repayment options.
Take a temporary payment pause.
Temporarily reduce your monthly payments.
If the problem is with your lender or servicer or you’re not getting the help you need, look for a legitimate student loan help organization that offers counseling. In addition to the NACA, consider these other vetted resources for student loan help; they're established organizations or legal representatives with verified histories:
Student loan help resource
Advice on repayment plans, forgiveness programs and dispute resolution.
Comprehensive information on options for student loan borrowers.
Advocacy on behalf of all borrowers to influence policy.
Complete financial review for struggling borrowers, which can include advice on student loan options and plans for dealing with other debt.
Advice on repayment plans, help with paperwork and budget counseling.
Information for student loan borrowers and an attorney directory.
Help for borrowers who have already filed bankruptcy that did not include their student loans.
Advice on defaults, dispute resolution, collections, debt settlement and legal remedies. Licensed in Massachusetts and New York.
Advice on debt settlement, bankruptcy, default and forgiveness. Licensed in Missouri and Illinois.
Many of these organizations offer advice for free. In some cases, you may need to pay a fee, as with a certified nonprofit credit counseling agency or if you hire an attorney.
None of the organizations above calls, texts or emails borrowers with offers of debt resolution.
Offers of help that you haven't sought out are likely to be scams. While it’s not illegal for companies to charge for services such as consolidation or enrollment in a payment plan, those are steps you can do yourself for free.
Avoid any debt relief companies that demand money upfront.
» MORE: How to spot student loan scams