An amazing reader, JMAN sent in a new debt relief mailer through my I Buy Junk Mail program.
This one is for something called the Student Loan Document Preparation and Processing Services Program, Student Loan Payment Reduction Department, and AF Student Services.
The key here is nothing in this self mailer is clearcut.
The outside of the mailer looks like an official document from a possible student loan servicer. notice that it does not identify who the sender is besides a generic name, Student Loan Payment Reduction Dept.
The consumer who sent this mailer in said, “I actually called the number and it was very sketchy. I realized it was a scam as someone answered after I was put on hold. I said “yes, I’m calling because I wanted more information on your debt forgiveness program but I just realized this is a scam. So I’m hanging up now.” The person was like “ah, I, I, ok.” You could tell I called her out and she didn’t know what to say. BUSTED!!!!! LOL!!! I hope a case regulator wants to give them some “special attention.” These people are the worst kind of scum!!!”
Those were harsh words but I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion.
I’m not sure I could go so far to call the mailer a scam, but I can certainly point out some glaring issues that raise some red flags for me.
1. Student Loan Payment Reduction – Pre-Qualification Notice: That’s a lot of nice words but what does it mean? Is the mailer actually promising a reduction and how was the recipient qualified? My guess is they were discovered to have a student loan from a credit bureau mailing list. So what are they actually qualified for?
2. Student Loan Document Preparation and Processing Services Program: So there is no government program with that name but it is a service most student loan assistance companies are selling. I think this is a bit deceptive to promote something under the name of a “program” that is actually just the product. It seems a bit like calling a car wash a Vehicular Soil Separation and Hydration Impact Program.
3. Subsidized: By whom? Later in the fine print we will learn this is geared to only federal student loans so in that context it makes a bit more sense. But federal student loan programs are already available for free, click here. So what if you don’t qualify for one of those existing programs, who is going to subsidize your payment reduction? I’m going with nobody.
3. Payment Reduction Estimates: The fine print down below says, “All program representations are provided for illustration purposes only and based on borrowers with approx. $91,000 in student loan debt the company has helped.” The only problem here is we have no data to put the statement into context or even to know who “the company” actually is. So this data is based on how many consumers and do these estimates include the fees this unknown company will charge? What government program is this for? If it is for an income qualification program, how many people that the company helped qualified and how many actually paid off their loans for that amount or is that just a wild guess?
5. Identified: How? Is the government leaking information about the loans people hold or is this just because you have a federal student loan on your credit report.
6. $68 a Month: So if you qualify for one of the free government income based reduction programs where your government payment could be $0 per month, is this a clue the company is going to charge you $68 a month? If so, for how long, 20 to 25 years, the life of those programs? That would be $16,320 – $20,400.
7. Total Loan Forgiveness: So if the new payoff estimated above in the mailer is for $6,776 then how can this be for a 100% total loan forgiveness program?
8. Fine Print: So the payment you have been “pre-qualified for” might be different than the illustrations show. What good is the illustration for then? They even say the programs they are offering are “available to borrowers through the U.S. Department of Education.”
The fine print says the company is AF Student Services but a search cannot locate a company with that name and they don’t provide a clue where the company is located. How can a consumer check the legitimacy of this mailer before calling?
The mailer says the company is available on Pacific Standard Time so I took a look in California just to see if there was a company named AF Student Services registered there. And guess what, no company found.
I did call the number in the flyer and a very nice representative said the company is actually American Financial Benefits Center and their website is afbcenter.com. American Financial Benefits Center is a registered corporation in California. According to CorporationWiki, “Brandon Frere serves as the President and has interests in other corporate entities including Frere Enterprises located in Petaluma, CA. Brandon’s past corporate affiliations include Frere Corporation.”
The BBB currently gives the company an A rating. – Source
If I had to rank my concerns over this mailer and pick my number one red flag it would be why American Financial Benefits Center was not more open about who they were in and on the mailer. Brandon Frere gives his telephone number and email address on his website so why not just continue the gracious openness in the mailer. In fact his letter to his website visitors says all the right things, the mailer seems so out of alignment with his posted positions. it almost feels like some marketing company just ruined his good intentions with this low rate mailer.
My second burning concern would be the lack of information about the quality of the illustrations give to consumers. But that’s a matter for the regulators, not me.
I’ll send Brandon an email right now and ask him to comment on this post and observations.
The email bounced: “email@example.com
Technical details of permanent failure:
Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the server for the recipient domain afbcenter.com by aspmx.l.google.com. [2a00:1450:400c:c02::1b].
The error that the other server returned was:
550-5.1.1 The email account that you tried to reach does not exist.”
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20 thoughts on “AFBC and Student Loan Payment Reduction Department”
I have an issue with my student loans. I actually went with AFBC back in 2015 until present. Something just doesn’t feel right with them. They did all the paperwork, got me into the federal loan foregiveness program and I qualify for the 10 years based on my job, got me in the ibr repayment. I pay them a monthly fee that they said was going to them for their services and my loans. The fee for the first year was $149 a month and the second year was $99. They want me to continue to pay a monthly fee for the duration of my loan payments and that seems ridiculous. We are talking over $10000. However, my loan providers AES and myfedloan on my account page say that they have been in repayment this whole time but AFBC has not paid my loans at all since I started with AFBC and no interest has accrued on my loans. I don’t know something doesn’t seem right. I’m scared to death of messing things up one way or the other. What should I do?
It is possible they got you into an IBR program based on non-factual data based on your situation to get you a $0 payment. These are your loans and you are always entitled to talk to your servicer to better understand what is going on. Make sure your company assisting you is filling out the annual Employment Certification Form (ECF) to make sure your employment actually does qualify. Don’t be one of the surprised people who wastes years thinking they qualify. You may also want to ask your company to provide you with a copy of the IBR application or data to make sure it was completed factually.
Funny how you blast all these people and yet you offer the same services. And I bet you don’t post this comment mister “get of debt guy”. Lol! You’re the worst kind of internet troll.
I don’t offer any services. What exactly are you referring to?
Forgot to add, was their something in my post that was incorrect or are you just generally bitching?
Thank you so much for posting this. I was thinking of giving this “AF Student Loan Services” a call myself.
So this AF student services got me I think. I was on the phone with him for almost 2 hours and he got all my information. What do I do now????? Please help.
Hello, I was also contacted by AFBS, but I do not understand what the scam is. They told me that my payment would be lowered from 230/mo to 69/mo, but my payment would extend from 120 months to 240 months. Even with the longer term, my repayment on the loan would be 10,000 less than if I paid the 230 for 10 years. I do understand that they are only providing a service, but are you saying that I can get a lowered payment like this on my own? And if so, who do I contact specifically? Are the phone numbers in the ads on this website endorsed by you, or are they just ads?
See https://getoutofdebt.org/51013/the-ultimate-guide-to-dealing-with-student-loans-you-cant-afford for self-help.
I have been to that site already. What I am attempting to find out now is what is the problem is with AFBS and if they are a scam. The payments they quoted me seems better than what I am presently paying.
Nobody can tell you if they are a scam or not. You have to be a smart and educated consumer and determine what a scam means to you.
The Ultimate Consumer Guide to Checking Out a Debt Relief Company Before You Sign On the Line
How to Check Out a Business or Company to Avoid Getting Scammed or Ripped Off
How to Run a Clean Student Loan Assistance Program
You can contact your loan servicer but you will most likely get the run around and after a few years they jack up your bill really high to make up for the money they lost while you were in a repayment program, why dont you take a look at companies like sallie mae/navient and great lakes that are the real monsters. If you want to help so much ” get out of debt guy” why dont you do a tutorial on how to decipher what type of loans qualify for what program and how to consolidate them proplerly if they dont and what conditions are required in order to achieve forgiveness. You definitely wont get that info from your website or your servicer… do you rag on mc donalds because they are charging a riddiculous fee for cooking a burger that you could go down to the store and cook yourself ? Its convenient to pay someone else to do the work for you, thats how i see it. I pay turbo tax to fill out my own taxes on their website!!!! But i dont go on the internet and cry because they say “file free” on their ads but come to find out fed is free but you pay for state . It seems like your website has good intentions but i think you are on a bit of a high horse sir, capital one sends out “pre qualified mailers” they charge 29% compounding interest, are they a scam or a business? Think about all of your “red flags” do you think financial companies are going to send quotes and estimates for advertising or hard numbers? Dont be dense… imagine you had to advertise to the American public would you sit at your dimly lit desk and write out 10,000 estimates a week or would you use a successful example from the past so you could encourage consumers to buy your product or service. I have no vested interest in any of the companies on your website i just think you are a little over the top.
I signed up for this program fall of last year. It was completely misrepresented and pitched as a consolidation program. I found out yesterday that I’m paying for their services, & I qualify for $0 as a qualifying payment according to the federal government. Is there any way to hold this company accountable for the predatory lending they are providing to students and workers in the service industry? This is absolutely disgusing, and find it very insulting that the BBB will endorse such a company simply for a fee. It was not made clear that they were simply providing a service that I could do it myself. I have a master’s degree and in my job frequently have to wade through federal guidelines and I believe most of us are more than capable of filling out paperwork and returning it to the federal government on time. Furthermore, they do not determine my loan repayment options that is determined by the federal government. So when they say they guarantee to find you the lowest possible rate its bullshit because you’re guaranteed that rate based off of federal guidelines. This in and of itself is misleading and deceptive practice. I live in Arkansas, this company is in California. I’m inclined to close out my account and quit my job just so they can’t get my money. AND file bankruptcy on top of that because when I should be paying $0. Now when I look at the website they have a posting that says that they are indeed just providing a service I wonder if they were already in trouble and has since changed with a presented to me more than 6 months ago. In addition to this whenever I ask for a forbearance or deferment because I need my payment pushed back they did not indicate that this indeed is not what I’m getting instead they continue to take money out of my account so I incurred more fees from my banking institution. I’ve called 3 times since October and each time I was promised it would be resolve. Yesterday they offered me to refund my 200 dollars to cover my Bank fees however I have to pay them $200 next month so they would be using my money to reimburse me for my fees incurred because of their employees not following through with doing what they said they would and not actually providing the services they say they are providing. I told them to keep their $200 that they needed to return my banking institution fees instead. However, this is simply not enough when you look at paying $145 for 10 years when you simply should be paying 0. I want to do everything possible to hold this company accountable for how they have been presenting themselves. Any suggestions or thoughts?
I sense your frustration. I think this issue can be resolved fairly easily, hopefully.
The first step would be for you to log back into your student loan accounts through the Department of Education and change your PIN so any such company no longer has access to your account.
You’ll find your mailing address. email, and maybe phone number was changed to the company, so change it back to you so you can receive any important communications regarding your account.
Next, if you want to begin making your own payments again, advise the company and then advise your bank of the situation and ask how to cancel any future debits. You might have to change your account number.
At the same time you may want to follow this guide to resolve your differences with any company you are displeased with. See https://getoutofdebt.org/20126/how-to-try-to-get-a-refund-from-a-debt-relief-company
Well the company contacted me today, after they found my post. I must correct my errors. They do indeed provide 100% customer service 100% of the time. See below…
They have good lawyers of course and they have it detailed extensively. I’m sure I just don’t remember all the info and was completely wrong in my rant.
My $145 in bank fees will be promptly refunded. They notified me that if I was confident I could indeed complete all of the documentation and return it in time then I was more than free to opt out at any time.
I guess I missed that somewhere in the print. Clearly I needed to review my contract.
I reported to Michael the manager that I wanted to opt-out of the “service” immediately. He reported that he would do so and I have sense received a couple of emails closing the customer service ticket. He reported that I would receive emails in regards to my request for the audio during enrollment, not sure exactly what that will consist of, but I’m sure I will be satisfied.
thanks for the resource guide.
In addition, Cameron (not Michael, my mistake) called me back to let me know that they will also refund my $200 that was withdrawn this month. I appreciate that they were willing to do so. So even though I’m opting out, because I feel I can complete the documentation myself, I do so feeling satisfied with my experience.
Thanks for clearing this up. I just got one of these at my parents house (not my address) first red flag! I was also curious how do they know I have student loans?! The BBB approval is also clever misuse of who and what company is actually BBB approved. Steve, why is the financial market so predatory? It seems like, as I age ( i just turned 31) there are more and more pitfalls and nearly everything has a catch! I feel like I can’t trust anyone with my money…but me!
Brant, thanks for the comment. Typically these mailers are generated by marketing lists from credit bureaus. Somewhere your name is still associated with that address.
I’d love to tell you the issues you mention are new. But they are not. When the extraction of money is involved it seems some stop at nothing. And this is not new.
I recently got this exact mailer, called them, and while there wasn’t anything glaringly bad about it, i couldn’t help but still have a sketchy feeling after hanging up.
Who can i talk to about recommendations for the free programs you link to in this article? I’m not sure if i qualify, or if a specific one would work for me.
Thanks for this article. I may have gone ahead with the AFBC program if i didnt read this first!
My student loan resource page is at https://getoutofdebt.org/51013/the-ultimate-guide-to-dealing-with-student-loans-you-cant-afford