Do you have student loans? Did you respond to an ad from Ameritech Financial claiming to offer you debt relief? The FTC has sued Ameritech for deceptive practices and just sent letters about the case to thousands of customers. The court hasn’t ruled, but there are steps you can take now to make sure your payments are going toward your loans. In addition, Ameritech may have changed your Federal Student Aid (FSA) account information. There are steps you can take to protect your financial privacy.
Here are answers to questions consumers are asking.
How do I know if Ameritech Financial is the company I do business with?
In addition to the name Ameritech, the company uses the names American Financial Benefits Center, AFB, AF Student Services, and Financial Education Benefits Center (FEBC).
I’m making monthly payments to Ameritech. Are those payments going toward my student loans?
No. Your monthly payments to Ameritech do not go toward paying your student loans. And Ameritech does not make payments on your behalf to your loan servicer.
Why is the FTC suing Ameritech?
According to the FTC, Ameritech failed to deliver on its promise that people could permanently reduce their monthly payments or get total loan forgiveness. The FTC also says the company charged illegal upfront fees. In addition, the FTC alleges the company told people their fees would go toward their student loan balances, but that wasn’t true.
Do I need to pay Ameritech to take advantage of loan repayment or forgiveness programs?
No. The Department of Education doesn’t charge borrowers to enroll in repayment and forgiveness programs. That means you are currently paying Ameritech for things you can get for free on your own from the Department of Education.
Can I stop making monthly payments to Ameritech?
Yes. To cancel your membership, call Ameritech at 1-800-792-8621. Canceling will not impact your student loans.
Will I get my money back?
The FTC works to return as much money as possible to consumers. But this case is still in court, so there’s no way to know if it will result in refunds. Legal actions take time, so please be patient. As soon as we have updates, we’ll post them here.
How can I tell the FTC about my experience with Ameritech?
File a report at FTC.gov/complaint. Your information will go into a secure database the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations. When you go to FTC.gov/complaint, click on: Credit and Debt à Debt à A company offering debt management or credit counseling.
What can I do to protect my financial privacy?
Ameritech may have changed your Federal Student Aid (FSA) account information. So you may want to change your login and review your account. Call Ameritech at 1-800-792-8621 or contact your loan servicer to regain control of your account.
How can I check the status of my loans and the security of my account?
I’ve seen other companies claim they can reduce my student loan debt. How can I protect myself from questionable practices?
Visit www.ftc.gov/studentloans. One tip: It’s illegal for companies to ask for money up front for so-called debt relief services. Don’t do business with anyone who makes you pay before getting the results they promise.