Did you get a letter in the mail from Unified Document Services saying that they can help you lower your payments or even qualify for loan forgiveness? If so, you've probably wondered if it's legit or another student loan scam.
Here's the deal: Although what Unified Document Services does isn’t illegal, they tend to leave out a key piece of information in their mailers. That is, everything they do, you can do for yourself, for free.
How Unified Document Services works
Unified Document Services bills itself as a document preparation company. On its website, it says “We can help with your student loan forgiveness. It’s your right.”
That’s a compelling claim. The company also says it can help you find an alternative payment plan or payment assistance with your private student loans. That all sounds great, but there’s a catch: As several users on Reddit found out, the company charges fees for its work.
3 reasons why you should never pay for student loan help
As noted in Unified Document Services disclaimer on its website, you can complete all of the services they provide on your own at no cost to you. Below are three reasons why you should never pay someone to help manage your loans.
1. You can sign up for an income-driven repayment plan on your own
If you have federal student loans and can’t afford your payments, you can sign up for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. Under an IDR plan, your loan servicer extends your repayment term to 20 to 25 years and caps your payments at a percentage of your discretionary income. Some people even qualify for a payment as low as $0.
You can apply for an IDR plan online without paying a fee. According to the Office of Federal Student Aid, the process takes less than 10 minutes.
2. You can apply for loan forgiveness by yourself
To be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), you must work for a qualifying non-profit organization or government agency full-time for 10 years. During that time, you must make 120 qualifying payments; payments made under an IDR plan are eligible.
If you think you qualify for PSLF, you can complete the application and mail it in on your own.
3. You can refinance your loans online in minutes
If you have private student loans, you can still lower your payment by refinancing your student loans. When you refinance, you can qualify for a lower interest rate and a longer repayment term, making your monthly payment more affordable.
There’s no need to pay anyone to refinance your loans for you.The process is quick and simple and you can qualify for a refinancing loan in just a few minutes.
What to do if you were a victim of scam
If you feel that you were the victim of a scam, it’s important to take action right away. Here's what to do:
Cancel payment: If you made a payment, contact your credit card company or bank to see if the charged can be canceled.
Contact the three major credit bureaus: Contact Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion and notify them that your identity was compromised.
Change your password: If you gave out your FSA ID, change your password right away.
Lodge a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Submit a complaint against the business with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on its complaint site or by calling 855-411-2372.
As the student loan crisis continues, companies like Unified Document Services will continue to pop up. By doing your research ahead of time and exploring your free options, you can manage your loans without resorting to paying hefty fees.
See also: How to Avoid Student Loan Relief Scams