The Federal Trade Commission is sending 22,817 checks totaling more than $2 million to borrowers who lost money to a student loan debt-relief scam that operated under the names Student Debt Doctor.
Consumers who receive checks should cash them within 90 days, as indicated on the check. Recipients who have questions about their refund should call the refund administrator, Analytics, at 844-916-3240. The Commission never requires people to pay money or provide account information to get a refund.
In late 2017, the FTC sued Student Debt Doctor and its owner, Gary B. White Jr. alleging that the company tricked consumers into believing they could receive immediate relief from monthly loan payments and complete loan forgiveness in return for a large, upfront fee. The defendants also told students that their loans were in forbearance when they were not, causing consumers to neglect required payments and to suffer diminished credit scores. In reality, the FTC alleged that the vast majority of consumers lost their hard-earned money but received little or no relief—and some borrowers ended up owing more.
In December 2018, the FTC announced a stipulated final order that bans White and his company from the debt-relief industry and from making misrepresentations related to financial products or services.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2021 that the Commission lacks authority under Section 13(b) to seek monetary relief in federal court going forward. The money being returned to consumers today comes from settlements that were entered before the Supreme Court’s decision. The Commission has urged Congress to restore the Commission’s ability to get money back for consumers.
The Commission’s interactive dashboards for refund data provide a state-by-state breakdown of Commission refunds. In 2020, Commission actions led to more than $483 million in refunds to consumers across the country.