While researching reputable student loan consolidation companies I’ve recently come across this one which, initially, seems professional. However, a little research has turned up a quite a few warning flags and this company is certainly not one I’d recommend.
Seems legit… at first.
Their website seems quite polished with a great clean interface, though filled with “Apply now for your free pre-approval“ images and text links at the end of almost every section, several per page. Upon closer inspection, it’s actually filled with generic information regarding student loans which for the most part is copied almost word for word from other websites. In fact, all of the information listed on their Federal loan repayment page at http://www.e-studentloanconsolidation.com/Student-Loan-Repayment-Plans/index.html#standard is completely identical, including subheadings and graph content, to the information listed at The National Consumer Law Center’s student loan assistance and information website at http://www.studentloanborrowerassistance.org/repayment/repayment-plans/.
Meanwhile, behind the curtain…
A web search for the phone number displayed on the website shows that not only does E-Student Loan Consolidation utilize that phone number as its main contact line, it‘s also the contact number listed for Conquest Debt Resolution and the Conquest Audit Corporation, which also all share the same California address. Again, information on the Conquest Audit Corporation’s website at http://www.conquestdr.com/ is taken almost word for word from other sites, such as their consolidation information at http://www.conquestdr.com/student_loan_consolidation.html copied from the Federal Student Aid’s website at http://loanconsolidation.ed.gov/help/faq.html which, again, is identical to that on the E-Student Loan Consolidation website at http://www.e-studentloanconsolidation.com/index.html#here . Conquest Audit Corporation even uses the same bright blue “Apply now” image links as E-Student Loan‘s website.
Things seem a little shadier.
After verifying that definite links exist between E-Student Loan Consolidation and Conquest Audit Corporation, searching for the company names on the Better Business Bureau website search brings up even more issues. Conquest Audit Corporation currently has a F rating with the BBB: http://www.la.bbb.org/business-reviews/Debt-Relief-Services—non-compliant-with-FTC-Rule/Conquest-Audit-Corporation-in-Santa-Ana-CA-100109002.
Between October of 2011 and December of 2012, the Better Business Bureau received seven complaints from consumers who stated that they were unhappy with the services rendered by Conquest Audit Corporation. The majority of them stated that the company took their personal information and money and were no longer responding to multiple attempts to contact them via postal mail, phone, fax, and email, leaving the consumers hanging with no way to know what was happening with their finances and contracts. One consumer alleges that right after giving the company their personal information the consumer’s FAFSA account was hacked, the contact and security information within changed, and even after multiple attempts at contacting the company to find out what was happening the company never responded. Of those seven complaints, the BBB reports that Conquest Audit Corporation responded to just one, the first complaint listed, occurring on 10/05/2011. As to the rest of the allegations, the Better Business Bureau maintains that they have not received any responses from the company.
Then, there’s the social media.
When taking a look at the E-Student Loans’ Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/EStudentLoanConsolidation, any remaining confidence bottoms out. The profile states that the company was founded on May 30th, 2010 and joined Facebook on August 30th, 2012. There are several grammar and punctuation mistakes in almost every status update except for a few links to other sites, and there’s one un-credited copy-and-pasted article regarding the “Pay As You Earn” program, which a web search reveals was written by Associated Press national higher education reporter Justin Pope, who does not appear to be connected with E-Services. The most recent post on January 4th, 2013 reads:
“Private Student Loan Consolidation Check List- Getting ready to apply for a Private Student Loan Consolidation? Well here are the following items that you will need.
1.Name of your alma mater
2.Current amount of private student loan debt amount
3.Name, address, email and phone number
4.Social Security number and Date of Birth
5.Government issued photo identification card
8.Proof of Graduation
9.A Cosigner if needed with steady income higher than your desired loan amount. (Credit worthy co-signer will increase your chances of becoming approved and often will lead to a lower interest rate)”
Remember, knowledge is power.
With the above requested personal information in hand, there would be almost no holds barred for this company. After what this basic research has turned up, it would likely be a wise decision to turn this company down.