If you are a victim of identity theft and someone has used your name and information to borrow a student loan without your permission, you could potentially have that student loan discharged. Identity theft discharge is similar to a false certification discharge.
New account fraud has increased by 13% in recent years, according to Consumer Affairs. The most common targets for new accounts do in fact include student loans (as well as car loans, mortgages and credit cards).
In order to qualify for an identity theft discharge, you must have never received any of the student loan money or benefitted from it in any way. You’ll also need to agree to work with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice in their identity theft investigation and prosecution.
How to Get Student Loans Discharged
Prove that without your consent, someone took out a student loan in your name and that you didn’t benefit from it.
Documentation (such as a copy of a court verdict or a judgment that determined you were the victim of identity theft) will likely be necessary for this.
You may also need to provide documentation to prove your own identity – such as photocopies of your driver’s license, passport, birth certificate and Social Security Card – and samples of your signature.
For federal loans, contact the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Department of Education by calling 1-800-MISUSED (1-800-647-8733). You can also report the fraud on their website as well.
Other Action Items
Besides working on getting these student loans discharged, you should also do the following:
Report the identity theft. Report identity theft on the Federal Trade Commission website. The website can also assist with creating a personal plan and action steps. File a police report concerning the identity theft.
Put a fraud alert on your credit. You can do this by contacting one of the three credit reporting bureaus – Experian, Equifax or TransUnion. This makes it more difficult for new accounts to be approved in your name and will require additional steps to verify your identity.
Check your credit reports. Monitor your credit report to confirm there is no other suspicious or false activity.
If you are currently struggling with student loan debt, there are ways you could lower your payment – including enroll in an income-driven repayment plan, go on a deferment or even refinance your student loans for a lower interest rate.