Students from around the state gathered outside the State Capital Building on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 to rally for an increase in public spending toward higher education.

Students from around the state gathered outside the State Capital Building on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 to rally for an increase in public spending toward higher education.

Alan Sylvestre/OPB

The problem of student loan debt drew top government attorneys from across the country to Portland Tuesday. Attorneys General from Nebraska, Wyoming and Vermont led panels looking at the federal role in reducing student debt and the options and mechanics of loan repayment. 

Although student debt debates are often directed at state legislatures or the universities themselves, state attorneys general have often led efforts to crack down on for-profit colleges and predatory lenders.

Such actions fit squarely within their job of protecting consumers, said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.

Another piece of familiar territory? Investigating scams.

Scams appear to be a growing problem as students get more averse to loans and the cost of college continues to rise.

Portland-area high schoolers recently reported being offered thousands of dollars in financial aid in exchange for their bank account numbers. A message from one high school counselor noted that students were offered more than $9,000, and were offered that money early, if they shared their bank information.

Such scams are familiar to Rosenblum, the organizer of Tuesday’s meeting. Rosenblum said scammers have used her name to further fraudulent causes.

“Its been done several times; I’ve been used as a con come-on, if you will,” Rosenblum said. “Once quite recently – there was some sort of grant that someone was applying to – and I had either approved it, or it was in my name or something to that effect.

“Here’s the thing about scams: scams are everywhere, and any vulnerable group is going to be preyed upon.”

Rosenblum says where there’s lots of money - as there certainly is in college financial aid – scams are likely.  

The Oregon AG hoped that by convening college, lending, and legal officials, she could move toward a solution — like a widely-accepted “borrower’s bill of rights.”