There are many criminals that take advantage of the increased amount of people shopping online and also in stores for the holidays. Therefore, it is important to secure all of your personal information, including your bank account and credit cards. Criminals access personal data such as names, Social Security numbers, bank and credit card information. Using the stolen data, the criminal can illegally obtain credit cards and set up accounts to receive financial gain. The personal information which they take can also be used to apply for financial aid and reap of the benefits by taking any credit balance of financial aid.
Here a few tips that may help reduce your risk of identity theft when applying for financial aid:
- Don’t pay for the FAFSA. Several websites offer help filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for a fee. These sites are not affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education. We urge you not to pay these sites for assistance that you can get for free elsewhere.
- If you are asked for your credit card information while filling out the FAFSA online, you are not at the official government site. Remember, the FAFSA site address has .gov in it!
- The official FAFSA is at www.fafsa.gov, and you can get free help from the financial aid office at your college or the college(s) you’re thinking about attending; the FAFSA’s online help at www.fafsa.gov; and the Federal Student Aid Information Center.
- After completing the FAFSA online, exit the application and close the browser; any cookies created during your session will be deleted automatically.
- Don’t tell anyone your Federal Student Aid PIN, even if that person is helping you fill out the FAFSA.
- Review your financial aid award documents and keep track of the amounts you applied for and received.
- Never give personal information over the phone or Internet unless you made the contact. If you have questions about an offer of aid or about your student loan account, ask your college or contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center.
- Keep receipts and documents (for example, credit applications or offers, checks and bank statements) with personal information in a safe place, and shred them when you are finished with them.
- Keep your purse or wallet safe at all times; store it and other items containing personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you have roommates.
- Immediately report all lost or stolen identification to the issuer (the credit card company or your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles) and to the police, if appropriate.
List provided by Federal Student Aid, An Office of the U.S. Department of Education
It is important to make sure your personal and contact information within all of your financial and school accounts are up to date and correct. Always verify social security number, your name as it appears on the social security card, address, and email address. If your account has been hack this information may have been changed. Viewing your credit history is also important to ensure accounts have not been opened in your name against your will. Please go to Avoiding Scams | Federal Student Aid to find more helpful information and resources. If you suspect that your student information has been stolen, it is important to act quickly. These offices will help you determine what steps to take depending on your situation:
U.S. Department of Education
Office of Inspector General Hotline
Complain online: www.ed.gov/misused
Federal Trade Commission
Complain online: www.ftc.gov/idtheft