Looking for student loan forgiveness, do your homework

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Stephanie Cusic went to school for medical billing and to become a dental assistant. But now she works delivering food orders for restaurants.

"I can't find work," said Cusic.

Her education left her with $23,000 in student loan debt.

"For the longest time I was in economic forbearance," said Cusic. "I didn't have to make any payments."

But now it is time to pay it back. She said she's trying to but needs help.

"It is not a good feeling to have that hanging over my head," said Cusic.

A few months ago she was solicited by an Internet based company that claimed it was part of the Obama Student Loan Relief fund.

"Sounds pretty official," she said. "It used the president's name."

But after several weeks of intense pressure from the loan counselor, Cusic said she discovered the company it had nothing to do with the U.S. Department of Education and the Loan Forgiveness Program.

"I didn't do my homework first," she said.

The company is Literacy Repair Services out of Utah. Its website states that for an affordable fee it is a document preparation business.

Cusic said at that point she decided not to pay the $290 fee and told the company by text.

"Your Services are not longer required."

The counselor's response was a diatribe; Cusic was called the "b****" and the lengthy text also included a threat to abuse her personal information.

"He has my personal information," she said. "So I contacted JSO when all of this happened."

On Your Side contacted Charles Harper, the financial counselor by mail and phone, so far no response.

But there are other complaints about his company on the website Ripoff Report.

The Better Business Bureau said when it comes to student loan forgiveness programs:

- Do not pay advance fees

- Do not give in to pressure or guarantees

- Keep in mind a debt relief company cannot negotiate your federal student loans

"The message here is to do your research," said Cusic. "Just because it says Obama or just because you think it might be legitimate it might not be real."

Cusic has filed complaints with the Attorney General, JSO and the Better Business Bureau.


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