September 13, 2016

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The Truth About Student Loan Identity Theft

Your child has worked so hard in school over the years and the time has finally come — he or she is applying to colleges and preparing to start a new chapter. You’ve tried to set aside some money to help pay for higher education, but you just paid off your student loans a few years ago, so you won’t be able to pay for more than a year or so of college. Luckily, you’re not worried. You know some financial aid is available, and your child will be able to take out student loans to cover the rest of tuition and board.

However, when the time comes to apply for the loans, you discover a problem — they’re alleging that your son or daughter already has student loans taken out in their name. There’s no way that’s possible, though. At first, you assume it’s just a clerical error, but after a lot of back and forth, it becomes clearer…your child had his or her identity stolen.

How and Why Thieves Commit Student Loan Identity Theft

Victims of student loan identity theft are frequently dumbfounded when they learn how easy it is for criminals to take out loans in another person’s name. If someone has your name, date of birth, address, and Social Security number, they shouldn’t have a problem taking out a student loan.

Why do identity thieves take out fraudulent student loans? Do they want to go to college that badly? In most cases, that’s not their goal. Student loans are just one of many methods they can use to get cold, hard cash. The student loan checks come in to pay off educational expenses, but the thieves just cash the checks and keep the money.

Student Loan Identity Theft Doesn’t Just Affect College-Bound Kids

If a young person had their identity stolen as a child — which is a growing problem — they might not discover it until they go to apply for student loans. Anyone’s identity, however, could be used to take out these types of loans. For an adult that has already gone through school, or never even had student loans in the first place, they could find out when:

  • The government seizes their federal tax return refund for a defaulted student loan.
  • They’re thinking of buying a house and check their credit report to see where they stand. There’s a student loan on there that they didn’t take out, it was never paid, and it’s killing their credit score.
  • Default notices start flooding their mailbox, collectors keep calling, and they have no idea why.

Anyone can be affected by student loan identity theft. And, if it isn’t caught fairly quickly, thieves can cause a great deal of damage that takes a long time to clean up — especially when they decide not to pay the loans.

There’s no way to completely prevent student loan identity theft, but enlisting the help of an identity protection monitoring service like IdentityForce is an excellent start. We’ll monitor your identity 24/7, and if something looks suspicious, you’ll be alerted immediately. In the event someone takes a fraudulent student loan out in your name, we’ll even work on your behalf to clear everything up and get your credit (and name) back on track.

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Heidi Daitch

Director, Strategic Programs at IdentityForce
Heidi is a busy working mom who juggles many of the same responsibilities and challenges at home and at work - a long list of things to do and not enough time to do everything. With so little time, Heidi tries hard to find simple, but effective strategies to save time for what’s really important – spending time with her family.
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