Tips for Avoiding FAFSA Scams

Dear College Made Simple reader,

During the long process of applying to different colleges, the last thing you and your family need to worry about is identity theft or fraud.

Sadly, fraud is common, especially with FAFSA applications.

That’s because your FAFSA (Free Application For Federal Student Aid) contains so many sensitive personal and financial details.

To that end, we’ve put together some helpful insights into today’s most prevalent FAFSA scams… so you’ll know what to avoid if you see them.

– Scott

Tips for Avoiding FAFSA Scams

Keep Your Numbers To Yourself

Be very cautious about companies that offer to help with your FAFSA. Often times the mission is to get your credit card number.

If you’re on a web site that asks you for credit card information, close your browser immediately and never return. Chances are, you just brushed up against a scam.

On a similar note, when you fill out your FAFSA online, avoid choosing an obvious four-digit PIN number.

Anything that could be easily researched or guessed by a stranger – a birthday, for instance, or the end of a phone number – makes for a very poor PIN.

What’s more –a poor PIN makes for potentially easy “data publishing” by people who know you’ve got a student about to enter college.

It’s easy to guess that you’ll have a FAFSA application out there – be sure not to make the access easy to guess as well.

Watch Out For Uninitiated Follow-Ups

Sophisticated scammers know when there’s a college-bound kid in a household.

And often times they’ll take calculated gambles with that information.

That means they’ll send official-seeming emails asking for further information.

(Real emails will have account information, and won’t ask for personal information.)

It seems rather obvious but bears repeating: If you have any question over whether an email is legitimate or not, don’t click any links.

Rather, simply type the web site address into your browser and see if there are any issues when you get to your application.

Scammers have also been known to place calls posing as FAFSA officials.

Again, legitimate communications will never ask for personal information, so remember not to give any information out over the phone or by email.

If there’s a real need to address an issue on your application, you can correct the problem by initiating contact with a legitimate official.

To your college funding & admissions success,

Scott Weingold

Co-Founder, College Planning Network LLC

Publisher, CollegeMadeSimple.com – The free educational resource of College Planning Network

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by CollegeStats.org.  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News, TheStreet.com, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.