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How to Prevent Address Fraud in your Schools

One of the challenges that public schools face is ensuring that all enrolled students are registered with legitimate addresses. It has become increasingly common for parents to enroll their children in a school out of district with fake addresses. This might mean that parents are using a family member’s home address, information from an old home that’s within the district or an entirely falsified address.

Districts are noticing this problem within their schools and are cracking down on the issue, enforcing strict policies that include fees for families that get caught enrolling students with inaccurate addresses. After all, educating students who are illegally registered takes seats and funding away from students who live within the district. However, a lot of schools that use paper-based enrollment processes are having trouble confirming accurate addresses. This is why many schools are going digital with online solutions like SRC Solution’s Address Purification Gateway, which automates a process of confirming legitimate student addresses.

If you’ve been debating whether to invest in a digital solution to assist your staff with identifying falsified addresses, here are the answers to the questions you’ve been asking.

How much does address fraud really cost schools?
Address fraud that occurs for a long period of time without interference can end up costing schools millions of dollars. A report by nonprofit organizations Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools and the Center for Popular Democracy found that fraud has cost U.S. charter schools over $200 million in recent years. According to the Washington Post, the 2015 report includes over $44 million from cases that happened before 2014, the 2014 total and the $23 million in new cases of fraud that have occurred since 2014.

The Washington Post also noted that while these figures only represent the money lost in the charter school sector, which educates around 5 percent of the students enrolled in public schools, the total loss for all schools due to address fraud throughout the U.S. in 2015 was about $1.4 billion. A large part of these wasted expenses include the estimated $2,500 spent on printing and mailing of student forms to incorrect addresses.

Ensure your schools are able to put funds toward student programs by preventing costly address fraud.

What are schools doing about the issue?
Officials from Chicago Public Schools have recently discovered several cases of address fraud in 11 of its highly-selective schools, explained Chicago news source DNAinfo. As a result, the district is sending a message to families that this illegal activity won’t be tolerated, charging families with out-of-district tuition fees that they believe to be the fair equivalent of the time and money they would have owed if enrolled correctly. For example, a student attended Payton High School for four years enrolled with a fake apartment address. Once this was discovered, the family was charged with a $45,000 non-resident tuition bill for the four years he attended. They’ve also implemented a life-time ban from all 11 schools for those caught.

“Fraud not only undermines confidence in the school system, it robs a deserving student of an important educational opportunity. With a lifetime ban, we are sending a strong message to parents that this fraud will no longer be tolerated and that consequences cannot be avoided.”

Forrest Claypool, CPS chief executive officer said in a press release, as quoted by DNAinfo.

Address fraud isn’t a problem limited to U.S. school districts. The Black Country and Staffordshire school districts in the U.K. recently reported finding 39 cases of address fraud over the past three years, according to the Express and Star. These students were removed from the school and residential students took their places.

What can you do to protect your schools?
Instead of hiring more staff members to closely monitor all of the new and existing student addresses, invest in an online solution that tracks student moves, performs an address analysis and validates data for you to catch any out-of-date addresses that would be hard to identify when assessing paper documents. Aside from lost time, man power and thousands in funding, address fraud also causes damage to schools’ reputations, which may encourage other families to enroll students with faulty information.

“If a district was to gain a reputation of not being particularly vigilant, there might be an invitation to other parents [living outside the district] to go ahead and bring your child in,” Jay Worona, general counsel to the New York State School Boards Association, told U.S. News and World Report.

The Address Purification Gateway will bring a high return on investment by cutting down on printing and mailing costs and saving funding for legally registered students. Don’t risk your district’s reputation by allowing address fraud to occur in your schools. Monitor both new and existing addresses with the Address Purification Gateway.

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