How Concorde Career College Uses CourseKey to Combat Fraudulent Claims
Concorde Career College uses CourseKey’s secure, verifiable software to combat fraudulent student loan identity theft claims, sometimes with just a single email.
The pandemic wasn’t just a curveball; it was a 100 mph curveball thrown at a batter holding nothing but a stick. One way that the government mitigated the financial impact was by pausing interest and repayment on student loans. As the economy bounces back and employment rises, loan payments are beginning again, but the Biden administration has expressed concerns about the return to repayment.
“We can expect that many, many borrowers will not be eager to return to repayment when they have been led to believe, or even to hope, that was never going to happen” due to promises of mass student loan forgiveness, said Richard Cordray, Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid at the U.S. Department of Education in remarks at the 2021 Education Finance Conference of the Education Finance Council (EFC). “Getting over that psychological hurdle with millions of Americans may be a much harder job than we know.”
Just as the government began issuing repayment notices, the student loan servicing industry saw a massive shakeup. Not one but two student loan servicers will suspend student loan servicing operations for the Department of Education. Student loans will be transferred from Granite State Management and Resources and Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Authority to other service providers. Service transfers are notoriously messy, and lost records and missed payments are common. Recently, a third loan servicer announced that they would no longer service student loans.
Unfortunately, these two factors created the perfect storm for bad actors to strike. After repayment notifications and the loan shakeup were announced, Concorde Career College began receiving identity theft complaints from former students who claimed they never took out student loans. Because Concorde uses CourseKey to take attendance, Internal Auditor Sean Langford could shut down these claims immediately, sometimes with just one email.
The Problem: Fraudulent Identity Theft Claims
When repayment notifications began, students who were unable to make payments panicked and sought the help of credit counselors. Common advice from counselors is to send a contest against any loan or item out there that they would deem is not theirs.
“No matter how much you go through with a student, whether it’s through the entrance or exit counseling, it’s almost rapid-fire when you go through the process to educate the student about what the repayment expectations are after graduation,” said Sean. “We try to help them understand, these are the expectations, and if you have a life change, you need to get in contact with your loan servicer—they will work with you. But between graduation and the typical six-month loan repayment grace period, students forget. Now because of the moratorium on loan payments, students had an even longer grace period than typical.”
The Solution: Verified Attendance Records from CourseKey
With CourseKey’s detailed, verifiable, and easily accessible attendance records, Concorde was able to shut down these fraudulent student loan identity theft claims quickly.
“Where CourseKey helped us significantly is when a student comes back and says: ‘I never attended this school, took this course, or took out a loan, my identity was stolen,’ we can quickly pull a report that matches hour for hour when that student was in physical attendance of a course or externship. We submit those documents as part of our response, proving the student was in attendance,” said Sean. “We typically have their driver’s license or another form of identification on file, so we take that and use it in conjunction with the attendance records. It clears up a lot of those claims immediately so that the lender can go back and say, ‘no, you did sign up for this, and we know it was you because your ID matches, and we have your records.’”
CourseKey’s digital attendance records are verifiable down to the second. Students are assigned a unique student ID within CourseKey, and they must clock in on their device using Face/Fingerprint ID or another secure, verifiable attendance method. Sean simply responds to these claims with a copy of the student’s ID and an attendance report pulled directly from CourseKey.
“It’s ironic; I’ve had instances where I had actually randomly selected three students at three campuses, and I audited their enrollment and financial files during their time at school. Then, after they graduated, I received identity fraud cases from them, and I kept thinking, ‘I know this name, wait I’ve audited their files.’ So it’s helpful to witness and follow through a student’s entire lifecycle in one clear view.”
With a pen and paper attendance method, Concorde would have been stuck spending hours pulling attendance sheets from storage bins to shut down fraudulent claims, wasting time on a wild goose chase.
Protecting Your School
The reality of every industry is that fraud is inevitable in some shape or form, and it’s critical to take steps to protect yourself. Verifiable, easily accessible records will save your administrators time shutting down false identity theft claims and provide evidence for borrowers’ defense claims.