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Identity Theft

Identity theft may be a new term to you; however, it happens on a daily basis.  Identity theft occurs when someone steals your identity and impersonates you in order to obtain student loans or other forms of financial aid, or to open fraudulent accounts in your name.


Identity theft can have a devastating effect on your life.  You may end up spending months and possibly years regaining your credit worthiness.  During that time you will find it difficult to obtain loans, get a job, an apartment, or even write checks.


Protect yourself by using the following guidelines:


  • Carry only the credit cards and ID that you need
  • Sign your credit card immediately
  • Do not carry your social security card with you. Keep it in a secure place
  • When applying for financial aid, obtain a Personal Identification Number (PIN) from the U.S. Department of Education.  This will allow you access to your personal account.  Because your PIN serves as your electronic signature, you should never give it to anyone.
  • Shred any documents that contain your social security number or a credit card number


If you feel that you are a victim of identity theft:


  • Immediately report the suspected theft or loss of a key identification document such as a driver’s license, passport, credit cards or social security card to the issuing agency
  • File a report with your local police department and make sure to get a copy
  • Call the Identity Theft Toll-Free Hotline at 1-877-438-4338.  This the central point of contact within federal government for reporting incidents of identity theft
Last Reviewed: November 19, 2004