Identity theft occurs when criminals gain access to personal data such as names, social security numbers, and bank and credit card information. Using the stolen data, the criminal can fraudulently obtain credit cards, establish cellular phone accounts and more.
Reduce Your Risk When Applying for Aid
- 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 applied for and awarded.
- Never give personal information over the phone or Internet unless you made the contact. If you have questions about a solicitation or about your student loan account, call (800) 4-FED-AID.
- Shred receipts and documents with personal information if they are no longer needed.
- Immediately report all lost or stolen identification to the issuer and to the police, if appropriate.
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 is provided free elsewhere. The official FAFSA is at www.fafsa.ed.gov. You can get free help through the FAFSA's online help or from the financial aid administrator at your college.
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.
Save Your Money Don’t Pay for Help to Find Money for College
Commercial financial aid advice services can cost well over $1,000. You might have heard or seen these claims at seminars, over the phone from telemarketers or online:
- Buy now or miss this opportunity.
Don't give in to pressure tactics. Remember, the opportunity is a chance to pay for information you could find yourself for free. We’ve provided a list of free sources.
- We guarantee you’ll get aid.
A company could claim it fulfilled its promise if you were offered student loans or a $200 scholarship. Is that worth a fee of $1,000 or more?
- I’ve got aid for you; give me your credit card or bank account number.
Never give out a credit card or bank account number unless you know the organization you are giving it to is legitimate. You could be putting yourself at risk of identity theft.
Report Fraud and Identity Theft
A company charging for financial aid advice is not committing fraud unless it doesn’t deliver what it promises. For more information about financial aid fraud or to report fraud, call the Federal Trade Commission toll free at (877) FTC-HELP (877-382-4357), or go to www.ftc.gov/scholarshipscams.
If you suspect that your student information has been stolen, it is important to act quickly. These offices will help you determine which steps to take depending on your situation.
- U.S. Department of Education
Office of Inspector General Hotline
(800) MIS-USED (800-647-8733)
Complain online: www.ed.gov/misused
Complain online: www.ftc.gov/idtheft