On June 14, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it settled a lawsuit against Arete Financial Group (Arete Financial) for operating an illegal student debt relief scheme and that it will send checks totalling $3.3 million to 37,844 borrowers harmed by the company.
Arete Financial was sued by the FTC for lying to borrowers about being affiliated with the Department of Education, falsely promising to reduce or eliminate student loan payments, and charging borrowers upfront or recurring fees. According to the FTC, the company was running a debt relief scam – a frustrating and common scheme where a company offers debt relief to student loan borrowers, charges expensive fees, and never provides the promised relief.
I got a check in the mail from the FTC. What do I do and how do I know this isn’t a scam?
If you receive a check as part of this settlement, you should cash it within 90 days.
A payment or claim form sent by the FTC for this settlement will include an explanation about the settlement and details about the case. The case is also listed at ftc.gov/refunds, along with the name of the company issuing payments and a phone number for questions.
You can find answers to common questions about FTC refund payments on the FTC’s Refund FAQ page. If you have any other questions, you can call the refund administrator at 855-678-0558.
Watch out for debt relief scams!
Don’t pay a company to help you settle your student loan debt or reduce your payments. Debt relief companies frequently charge expensive fees and upfront costs and never deliver on the promises they make to reduce your debt. And they can’t do anything that you can’t do yourself, or with the help of your loan servicer, for free. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has a list of red flags for identifying student loan relief scams.
For more help with your student loan debt, see our page on Dealing with Debt.