This post is a bit of a student loan “Public Service Announcement.”
The U.S. Dept. of Education issues student borrowers a federal PIN (personal identification number) that, when used in conjunction with your other personal data, can be used to complete financial aid forms, access your federal student loan data through the Department’s online database, and apply for federal student loan programs (such as loan consolidation and income-based repayment). It’s a very handy tool to manage your federal student loans online, and it also provides an added level of security so that even if someone knows your name, social security number, and other personal identifying information, they cannot access your student loan information.
As a rule, never give your federal PIN to anyone. Not to your boyfriend or girlfriend, not to your husband or wife, not to your parent, not to your best friend. Not even to your attorney. And certainly not to any third-party who asks for it. Here’s why.
Not only does federal law prohibit people from sharing their federal PINs, but it’s also just a very bad idea, because federal PINs can be used to electronically sign new student loan contracts in your name. Think proving a forged handwritten signature is difficult? (It is.) Proving that an electronic signature was forged is even harder. Furthermore, by obtaining your federal PIN, a third party can access much of your personal data, which can expose you to identity theft.
As an attorney who works with federal student loan borrowers on a daily basis, I can tell you that I never require my clients to provide me with their federal PINs. Never. If any attorney or third-party agency tells you they need your federal PIN, they are wrong. It is becoming an increasingly common tactic for non-attorney third-party student loan “relief” companies to request (or demand) people’s federal PINs, even during an initial phone intake. This is absolutely not necessary, and frankly, it is dangerous.
Please be careful, and please share this post with others. If you think your federal PIN has been compromised, visit the U.S. Dept. of Education’s federal PIN website to deactivate or change your PIN. You can also call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).