The Attorney General of Pennsylvania has stopped a company offering student loan debt relief services from operating in the state, forced it to repay $74,000 to individuals who were scammed, and pay a $50,000 fine as part of an announced settlement.
The settlement, which was in the form of an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, was with Unified Holding Group, LLC, which operated as Student Education Center. The company was accused of making false advertising statements on its website, creating fraudulent reviews on the Better Business Bureau’s website, and tricking individuals into paying hundreds of dollars to be enrolled in income driven repayment plans, which are free to enroll in. The company also enrolled individuals into forbearance plans without letting them know about it.
“The settlement my office negotiated today ensures this company won’t be able to scam hardworking Pennsylvanians struggling to pay off their student loans. Under this agreement, the company must cease operations in Pennsylvania and return $74,000 to PA consumers,” said Josh Shapiro, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, in a statement. “Consumers should remember: Only scammers promise fast loan forgiveness. Consumers should never pay upfront fees for help.”
Individuals were charged between $399 and $3,495 have the company help them complete documents required to apply for various federal student loan repayment, consolidation, or forgiveness programs offered by the Department of Education. The company took advantage of more than 200 Pennsylvania residents, who paid a combined total of $90,000 in fees. The company had repaid $17,000 in fees already, and will be required to repay the balance under the terms of the settlement.