With schools around the country heading back for another school year, a wave of Internet crimes is about to be uncovered. Thanks in large part to the ease of online applications for scholarships, grants, and financial aid, scammers have an easier than ever time of making off with a student’s identity and money.
College has long been a problem age in terms of fraud and identity theft. Many young people don’t even discover they’ve been the long-time victims of identity theft until they graduate high school; applying for actual jobs, requesting financial aid, or even enlisting in the military can uncover years of identity theft when their credit reports are unearthed for the first time.
Now, however, simply skimming off a young person’s credit identity is no longer providing the necessary payouts. That’s why ultra-savvy thieves are going after financial aid fraud and other forms of education-related scams.
This issue was once thought to be simply a matter of ineligible applicants requesting and receiving government assistance, but the technology–and often the weak software and internet protocols associated with application websites–has also resulted in something far more involved. Part of the issue is in how students apply for higher education, and then for aid. The sheer amount of data required on each applicant is staggering, and all too often there’s no indication of how the recipient plans to keep that data secure.
So what are hapless students to do? Nothing. Short or not applying for grants and loans, thereby footing the bill for higher education themselves, they’re left to enter all of their personal data and hope that a hacker doesn’t intercept it. Once the information has been submitted, it’s up to students to request copies of their credit reports on a routine basis, hoping to catch any suspicious activity as soon as it starts.