Student Aid and Identity Theft

Posted on 2/15/2008 4:23:04 PM

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:

Reduce Your Risk

  • Apply for federal student aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at
  • When completing the FAFSA electronically, remember to exit the application and close the browser.
  • Keep your U.S. Department of Education (ED) PIN in a secure place. (Get your PIN at
  • 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 We Keep Your Information Safe

ED cares about the privacy of your personal information.  The information you share with us via our secure websites (e.g., and 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 we do our part to keep your information safe—but you need to do yours 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)
complain online:

Federal Trade Commission
1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338)
complain online:

Social Security Administration

Equifax Credit Bureau

Experian Information Solutions (Formerly TRW)

TransUnion Credit Bureau