How to Protect Yourself from Student Loan Data Theft

Heads up to any of our readers who are paying off student loans: ECMC, a federal student loan agency, made an announcement last week that said the names, addresses, Social Security numbers and dates of birth for 3.3 million people were stolen from its headquarters about three weeks ago. No savings, checking or credit card information was included in the data, but if you are one of their borrowers, you can still be at risk for identity theft. So far, they haven’t found any evidence that the data has been used, but it’s better to take precautions now to secure your information.

How do you find out if your information has been compromised? Here are 3 options:

  • Head to https://www.ecmc.org/register/Register.do and fill out your information
  • Call ECMC at 1-877-449-3568
    • Monday-Friday between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET
    • Saturday from 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET
    • Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET
  • Visit www.nslds.ed.gov, a national student loan database where you can log in and check on information about your loans

ECMC is also working with Experian to offer affected borrowers free credit protection and monitoring for a year. If you are affected by the data theft, you will receive a letter soon, if you haven’t already. You’ll need a code from this letter in order to activate your credit protection services.

What can you do to protect yourself in the meantime?

  1. Keep in contact with your bank & credit card companies. Double check your existing accounts for any unauthorized purchases, and make sure no new accounts have been falsely opened in your name. Go one further and create new passwords & PIN numbers for your accounts, just to be safe. Make sure these passwords and PIN numbers are complicated and not easy to guess. Don’t use birthdays, years, names, phone numbers, or other obvious identifying information to create a new code.
  2. Check your credit report. Like we said, no misuse has been reported yet, but it doesn’t mean you are in the clear. Run your credit report to double check that no questionable accounts or loans have been opened in your name.

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