Fraud Hits Campus
In the newest of fraud stories to hit college campuses, the Department of Education (ED), just released an e-mail to the Santa Monica College Financial Aid office concerning fake representatives from their office claiming they can offer an $8,000 grant in place of federal student loans, for a small processing fee.
"I think it's important people ask questions before they get involved in giving people money. If it's not something offered through the school, then people should be wary," said SMC student Wendy King. "I had my identity stolen once when I was still 17 and it's really serious how easily people can get your information with just a social security number or bank number. You don't want to mess with these people."
Two SMC students have reported being hit by the fraud, according to the Financial Aid office. After they gave out their checking information for the processing fee, they noticed illegal activity within their bank accounts. The two students refused to comment about the incidents.
"They're getting banking numbers and personal information from students, and a few have had money drafted from their accounts, none of our SMC students that I'm aware of, but in general students have very little money to throw around," said Carolyn Dammer, SMC financial aid technician.
The ED announced that they wanted to remind students that there is no program to replace grants for loans and that there is no processing fee to obtain Title IV grants from ED. They also recommend you don't give credit card information over the phone unless you trust the company receiving your information.
If you or someone you know has been hit by this incident they recommend you call your bank, report the fraud to the ED office of the Inspector General at 1-800-MIS-USED (1-800-647-8733), report it to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-800-FTC-HELP (1-800-382-4357), and call the local police.
They ask that you provide as much detailed information as you can concerning the person or phone call. For further information about different types of fraud, visit www.ed.gov/misused and www.studentaid.ed.gov/lsa.