Financial Aid-Related Identity Theft Basics
Identity theft happens when someone uses your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in a fraudulent manner without your permission. Financial aid-related identity theft happens when someone uses your PII without your knowledge or permission to get admitted, enroll in courses, and gain access to grants, scholarships, benefits, and/or loans administered at a postsecondary institution.
You may not know that you are a victim of financial aid-related identity theft until long after your PII was used without your permission. Know the warning signs:
- You receive notification of a delinquent loan from a Department of Education loan servicer, referencing student loans that you did not apply for.
- You receive notification from the Department of Education stating that you owe money for a federal student aid “overpayment" related to financial aid you did not receive.
- You receive notification of an unpaid debt from a collection agency, for debt you did not incur.
- You receive notification from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR) stating that your wages or tax refund will be garnished.
- You cannot complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) because of a duplicate Social Security number.
- You cannot complete an Admissions Application for a Maricopa Community College because of a duplicate Social Security number.
- Your credit report indicates that you owe money to a postsecondary institution that you did not attend.
- Your credit report indicates that you owe money for student loans that you did not apply for.
Take Immediate Action
If your PII has been used for unauthorized activity at any Maricopa Community College, take the following action:
File a Police Report to report the crime.
- Contact your local county or city law enforcement jurisdiction and file a police report for the theft of your PII and
- Request a copy for your records, and Contact MCCCD District PD or College PD at 480-784-0900 to file a separate police report specifically for the financial aid-related identity/fraud incident and request a copy for your records.
Obtain a copy of your credit report from a Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs).
- Equifax: www.Equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance, 1-888-766-0008
- Experian: www.Experian.com/fraudalert, 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: www.TransUnion.com/fraud, 1-800-680-7289
File a claim with the Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov AND report the incident to any additional appropriate regulatory authorities.
- Federal Trade Commission: www.identitytheft.gov
- AZ Attorney General: www.azag.gov/consumer/data-breach/identity-theft
- State and Local Officials: www.usa.gov/identity-theft
- U.S. Postal Inspectors: www.uspis.gov/tips-prevention/identity-theft
- Internet Crime Complaint Center (Federal Bureau of Investigation): www.ic3.gov
- U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General: 1-800-MIS-USED (1-800-647-8733), oig.ed.gov/oig-hotline
Protect Your Personal Information
- Review and scrutinize debit and credit card transactions. Watch for and report unauthorized or suspicious transactions, and request a new card.
- Request a free credit report from the 3 credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) to check for any unauthorized accounts and charges. And, continually monitor your credit reports.
- Consider implementing a security freeze.
- Change your password and security questions and answers for any online accounts.
- Use strong passwords, unique to each online account.
- Be cautious of unsolicited social media messages, emails, text messages, or phone calls asking for personal information.
- Do not click links or open attachments in unknown or unsolicited emails or texts.
- Do not share personal information with others (e.g. social security number, date of birth).
- Store personal information, including your Social Security card, in a safe place. Do not carry it in your wallet.
- Keep your financial information to yourself. Do not give out credit card, checking or savings account information to anyone who calls you. Call the entity yourself to make sure the inquiry is valid.
- Collect your mail every day and place a hold on your mail if you plan to be on vacation or away from your home.
- Be cautious when using a public Wi-Fi network; ensure it is secure.
Maricopa Community Colleges take identity theft very seriously. Students and staff who knowingly submit fraudulent information concerning enrollment or financial aid information could be subject to local and federal legal actions, including, but not limited to, the application of civil and criminal penalties at the state and federal level. Additional action may also be taken for violations of applicable regulations and/or laws.
For more information, please refer to:
- MCCCD Administrative Regulation 6.11 Identity Theft Red Flag and Security Incident Reporting
- MCCCD Administrative Regulation 2.5.1 Disciplinary Standards, and 2.5.2 Student Conduct Code
- MCCCD Administrative Regulation 4.22 Statement on Privacy
- MCCCD Administrative Regulation 4.23 Written Information Security Program
- MCCCD Administrative Regulation 4.24 Information Security Incident Response Plan