Federal Student Aid and Identity Theft
Before you apply for federal student aid, learn how to prevent identity theft.
- How does identity theft happen?
Criminals access personal data such as names, Social Security numbers, and bank and credit card information. Using stolen data, criminals can obtain credit cards, set up cellphone accounts, and more.
- Reduce Your Risk When Applying for Federal Student Aid
- Apply for aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at fafsa.gov.
- When you exit the FAFSA site, close the browser so cookies from the session will be deleted automatically.
- Don't tell anyone your FSA ID Number, even if that person is helping you fill out the FAFSA.
- Review your financial aid award, 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 your financial aid, ask your college or contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1.800.4.FED.AID(1.800.433.3243). TTY for the hearing impaired at 1.800.730.8913.
Reduce Your Risk in General
- 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 pursr or wallet safe at all times; store it and other itemscontaining personal information in a secure place at home, especailly 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.
- Keep your computer up to date with antivirus protections and be sure to verify the security of websites you connect to if you plan on sharing personal information.
- How We Keep Your Information Safe
Information you share with us vis out secure websites, such as fafsa.gov and StudentsLoans.gov, goes through a process called "encryption", which uses a mathmatical formula to scramble your data into a format that makes it unreadable to a hacker.
- Report Identity Theft
If you suspect that your personal information has been stolen, act quickly. Contact the credit reporting agencies and have a freeze put on your account so nobody else can open new credit accounts in your name. You'll find tips and credit agency contact details at the Federal Trade Comission's Website listed below.
These federal websites offer information on reporting and repairing identity theft:
- U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General Hotline at www.ed.gov/misused. (for cases when Dept of Education funds are involved)
- Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.com/idtheft
- Social Security Administration at www.ssa.gov/pubs/10064.html
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at www.consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb/1243/what-identity-theft.html