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Identity Theft

Safeguard Your Student Aid Information!

Identity Theft

How does identity theft happen? Criminals use their access to personal data such as names, telephone numbers, Social Security Numbers, and bank and credit card information. Using the stolen data, the criminal can fraudulently obtain credit cards, buy items over the Internet, and even establish cellular phone accounts. Complaints to the Federal Trade Commission about identity theft have doubled each year since the Commission began compiling its complaint database. For more information see the U.S. Department of Education’s MISUSED page.

Reduce Your Risk

  • Apply for Federal Student Aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • When completing the FAFSA electronically, remember to exit the application and close the browser. (The Federal Government recommends that you clear your browser’s cache after use.)
  • Keep your U.S. Department of Education (ED) PIN in a secure place.
  • Don’t reveal your PIN to anyone, even if that person is helping you fill out the FAFSA. The only time you should be using our PIN is when you are on ED Web sites, which are secure.
  • Review your Financial Aid award documents and keep track of the amount of aid applied for and awarded.
  • Shred receipts and copies of documents with personal information if they are no longer needed.
  • Immediately report all lost or stolen identification to the issuer.

How Your Information is Kept Safe

The information you share via secure web sites goes through a process called encryption. Encryption uses a mathematical formula to scramble your data into a format that is unreadable by anyone who might intercept it. This is how your information is kept safe, but you need to do your part as well.

Report Identity Theft

If you become a victim of identity theft or suspect that your student information has been stolen, contact:

U.S. Department of Education
Office of Inspector General Hotline
1-800-MIS-USED (1-800-647-8733)

Federal Trade Commission
1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338)

Social Security Administration

Equifax Credit Bureau

Experian Information Solutions (Formerly TRW)

TransUnion Credit Bureau