NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky is warning consumers to be aware of rising student loan forgiveness scams as the recent announcement of canceling student loans of up to $20,000 has created new opportunities for scammers.

The BBB says consumers first should get to know the terms of your student loan and the relief program before acting. For information, go directly to official government websites such as ed.gov and studentaid.gov. The BBB suggests never paying money for free government programs; a real government agency will not ask for an advanced processing fee.

Secondly, consumers should be wary of out-of-the-blue phone calls, emails, or text messages claiming to be from the government. Usually, the government will not contact you using these methods unless you grant them permission.

Watch out for fake government agencies or programs. Scammers will often make up look-alike government websites that sound similar to legitimate agencies or programs. When visiting the website, be wary of misspelled words and keywords such as “now”, “immediately”, and “quickly”.

Lastly, consumers are reminded that information on loan forgiveness from a friend via social media may not be entirely correct. The BBB says it has seen an alarming increase in reports of scammers hacking social media accounts and using them to spread false information.

Anyone looking to find a reliable source for anything to do with student loans should visit the U.S. Department of Education website at ed.gov. The website provides more information about loan deferments, forbearance, repayment, and forgiveness or discharge programs at no cost.

If you come across a scam, you are asked to report it to the BBB at BBB.org/scamtracker. You can also see the latest reported scams in your area by visiting that website.