By Ryan Laspina
Analyst, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS
Realizing that a criminal has compromised your identity for Federal Student Aid (FSA) and that you are a victim of fraud is one of the worst feelings you can have. With all the questions and concerns involved in this type of situation, you will want immediate assistance to resolve the problem.
Circumstances surrounding identity theft and financial exploitation are unfortunate. They can be challenging to resolve.
Your School and Federal Agencies Can Help You Resolve Identity Theft
Schools and government agencies have procedures in place to review claims and potentially clear any charges you allegedly owe if the evidence is in your favor. The Department of Education (ED) also has regulations in place to mitigate fraud.
Other government agencies can help you, depending on your circumstances:
1. If you feel that a private organization defrauded you by promising help you never received, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. For example, if you used a financial advisor who charged you for services never rendered, that is misrepresentation or fraud. It should be reported.
2. If you feel you have been a victim of fraud or abuse by your school, contact the ED Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to file a confidential report. OIG handles extreme cases of fraud, waste or abuse.
For instance, report a school that promises you a high-quality education without being properly accredited. These schools, known as diploma mills, provide you with a diploma for a fee. If you feel that a school has misinformed you, contact the ED’s Federal Student Aid Feedback System.
3. If you suspect that your identity has been stolen to create a student account using your information, you should first notify the school where you’re enrolled. The school will have a process in place to work with identity theft victims, which typically includes obtaining a police report from a local police station.
In addition, identity theft victims should contact their loan servicer, the OIG and the FTC. Also, be sure to contact the three major national credit reporting bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. By federal law, you are entitled to a free credit report from each of those major credit reporting bureaus each year.
Treat Identity Theft as a Crime and Report It Promptly
Remember that identity theft is a federal crime, and it should be treated as a criminal act. If your identity is stolen, go to the police immediately to file a police report.
Your options to correct identity theft may involve numerous phone calls and providing documentation to several agencies. However, it’s worth your time and effort to repair your financial situation.