Identity theft is rampant on the Internet. There are dozens of ways that cybercriminals trick unsuspecting people into revealing their personal information. Recently, a customer, who is going to be attending college, told me he had been doing research on the Internet about how to obtain a student loan. He said a couple of days after this he got an email from what he thought was FAFSA which stands for Free Application For Student Aid. He filled it out, including his name, address, phone number, date of birth, and social security number and forwarded the email back. He didn’t realize until a couple of weeks later, that the official website for FAFSA has a .gov ending and the website associated with the email he sent in has a .com ending and has now been taken off the Internet. He’s afraid his identity has been stolen.
Be extra careful when applying online for anything that requires you to send in your name, address, date of birth and social security number. Once criminals have your information they can apply for credit in your name or use your existing credit card to make purchases.
If your personal information is lost or stolen, contact the credit reporting companies and place a fraud alert on your credit file and keep checking your bank and other account statements for unusual activity.