Student Identity Theft
What is it and how can you avoid it?

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Identity theft is becoming increasingly common and can result in significant damage to your personal and financial credibility and reputation. This includes damage to financial credit history, difficulty in obtaining student educational or other loans, and poor credit that could impact future job opportunities. Once identity theft has occurred, the victim can spend an extensive amount of time correcting information problems with credit reporting agencies, creditors, banks and credit unions and other impacted agencies.

The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) has taken steps to protect students from identity theft and will never request any financial account information from a student. Many years ago CSAC replaced Social Security Numbers (SSN) with a unique student identification number called the CSAC ID as a means of identifying, tracking and sharing student information for its various financial aid programs. All mailed student correspondence and other communications to students contains this unique student identifier and not the student’s SSN. In addition, CSAC uses strong data encryption to protect the student information that is transmitted electronically between institutions and CSAC.

In compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, CSAC will not release any Cal Grant program participant’s information to third parties without prior written consent. For security purposes and to protect the privacy of the student, the student must contact CSAC directly for information on how to complete a Third Party Release Form (G-25), which will authorize a third party to act on their behalf.

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What is “Identity Theft?”

Identity theft can occur when another person without your legal authority, or permission, uses your personal identification (e.g., your college Student Identification, Drivers’ License, Birth Certificate, Passport, etc.) with the intent of committing an activity that violates a Federal, state or local law, or that constitutes a felony under any state or local law.

What kind of information about yourself do you need to protect?

Protect your:

  • Date of birth
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Drivers’ License Number
  • Passwords and PINs
  • Banking Information

How can you protect your personal information?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Don’t carry your SSN with you.
  • Shred and destroy documents with sensitive information about yourself, such as your date of birth, SSN, bank account numbers, etc., before disposing of them.
  • Photocopy all cards in your wallet.
  • Select hard-to-guess PINs and passwords.
  • Don’t leave mail sitting in an unprotected mail delivery box.
  • Don’t provide a caller with personal information. Ask for the caller’s name and telephone number.
  • Order your credit reports and review them regularly (every 6 months).

Be cautious providing ANY personal or sensitive information about yourself to anyone.

What can you do if you think you have been victimized?

First — contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus:

Second — close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.

Third — contact law enforcement officials to file a police report with your local police or the police in the community where the theft took place.

If someone has contacted you about student financial aid services, and you suspect fraud:

Right away, contact your school’s financial aid office with any information you may have, such as the name and telephone number of the person who contacted you; the company/business they said they represent; what they said or what information they asked you for.

If you are contacted about a service provided by the California Student Aid Commission and you suspect fraud, contact the Commission’s Customer Service staff at 888-CA-GRANT, that’s 888-224-7268. You may also email us at studentsupport@csac.ca.gov.

Other Resources

  • The following are other sources of information regarding identity theft:
  • Social Security Administration, Fraud Hotline 800-269-0271
  • Federal Trade Commission 877-IDTHEFT (438-4338)
  • Equifax Credit Bureau, Fraud 800-525-6285
  • Experian Information Solutions 888-397-3742
  • TransUnion Credit Bureau, Fraud 800-680-7289
  • California Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Privacy Protection