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Latest from FSA: Avoiding Scams

March 20, 2014

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Financial aid scams are everywhere these days. Companies are becoming more convincing, and having an awareness of the strategies they use to persuade students to pay for their services is crucial. These tips will help save your students from potential fraud, identity theft, and paying for services that should be free:

Save your money.

  • Don’t pay for help to find money for college
    • Federal Student Aid does not send advertisements, mailers, or solicit students to borrow money. If you receive a solicitation, it is not affiliated with the federal government.
  • Use free sources of information
  • Don’t pay for the FAFSA
    • The official FAFSA site address has .gov in it: www.fafsa.gov
    • You are not on the official government site if they ask for your credit card information.

Save your identity.

  • Reduce your risk when applying for aid
    • Do not tell anyone your Federal Student Aid PIN, even if that person is helping you fill out the FAFSA.
    • After completing the FAFSA, exit the application and close out of the browser.
    • Do not give personal information over the phone or internet unless you made the contact.
  • Federal Student Aid keeps information safe
    • Information students share with Federal Student Aid on their secure websites goes through encryption, the use of a mathematical formula to scramble data into a format that is unreadable to hackers.

Report fraud and identity theft.

  • Report financial aid fraud
    • A company asking for money in exchange for financial aid advice is not committing fraud unless it does not provide what it promises students. For more information, contact the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Report fraudulent activity by a college
      • There is suspicion of fraud, waste, or abuse involving federal student aid at your school.
      • You believe that someone at the school has not been honest about any part of the educational program and its cost.
  • Report identity theft
    • If there is suspicion of stolen student information, immediately contact one of these offices to help determine a plan:
      1. U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General Hotline
      2. Federal Trade Commission
      3. Social Security Administration
      4. Equifax Credit Bureau
      5. Experian Information Solutions
      6. TransUnion Credit Bureau

For more information and tips on avoiding scams and identity theft, visit: http://studentaid.ed.gov/types/scams.

Megan Freese, Communications Intern

Megan Freese, Communications Intern

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