According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, college students make easy targets.
Statistics show nearly a quarter of all identity theft complaints are made by people aged 18 to 29 years old.
Welcome to the world of technology, where email scams, credit card
skimmers, and telephone scams present new ways to fall prey to thieves.
Scammers have found plenty of opportunities to rob college students
of their identities. Some may find a quick, sudden opportunity to commit
theft, perhaps by snatching a credit card lying around in a dorm
room or by finding personal information on a cell phone, computer or
tablet that was left
That presents a modern problem for parents sending their children to
school: aside from the everyday essentials, students now must consider
whether to buy
a paper shredder or student software that might protect their
computer from fraud, or if they should keep a dorm safe to store
Experts say college students are easy targets for thieves because
they don't keep track of their credit history. In fact, most know
nothing about credit
reporting agencies or that they can receive an annual free credit
Parents often warn students about identity theft or other rip-offs
they could face, but studies show most students ignore what they are
told or forget how
to prevent identity theft.
"Identity thieves don't steal your money; they steal your name and
reputation and use them for their own financial gain," says the U.S.
Education's Office of Inspector General. "They attempt to steal your
future! Identity theft literally steals who you are, and it can
your financial future."
Don't ignore the threat. When your identity is stolen, the damage
that’s done will be left up to you to fix. Having a strong credit rating
and a clean
record is essential for your future self.
It's quite easy for college students to fall victim to a credit card
scam or other form of identity theft, and once you do, it could take
years to recover.
How does identity theft happen to college students?
• According to the U.S. Department of Education, half of all students have
their grades posted by Social Security Number.
* Many cases of identity theft among college students occur because
of communal living, which invites others to steal student data or
• Social media security – or a lack thereof – also provides thieves a chance to steal students' information.
• Dozens of data breaches targeting university or college
institutions are reported each year and can lead to identity theft from
• Although half of college students receive frequent offers of
credit cards in the mail on a weekly basis, many toss the mail into a
trash can without
shredding the information.
• Using your computer for online banking or bill-paying, or to buy
concert tickets, clothes, books or other merchandise can expose you to
"Each of these routine actions places you at risk of being a victim
of identity theft because each of these transaction requires you to
information such as your bank and credit card account numbers, your
Social Security number, or your name, address, and phone number,"
according to the U.S.
Department of Education. "This is the same personal information that
identity thieves use to commit fraud."
Preventing identity theft takes quick action and continuing efforts.
Check out the most comprehensive prevention guide for college students, " 51 Simple Ways to Prevent Identity Theft While in College," for tips on
keeping your credit in good standing and preventing thieves from taking your identity.
The guide is the ultimate source of information related to
preventing identity theft in college, and includes tips on how to safely
use public computers,
when and where to use public Wi-Fi or unsecured Wi-Fi, how to avoid
computer viruses by using the proper software, how to avoid spam, and
how to stay away
from telephone scams by signing up for the National Do Not Call
Some tips to prevent identity theft
· Stay safe by memorizing your Social Security Number and passwords,
rather than writing them down or carrying them in a wallet, purse,
phone, or anywhere
else. The U.S. Department of Education also warns against using your
birthdate as a password.
· Use a paper shredder to rip up those "pre-approved credit
applications" or other financial documents you might have. Don't toss
your personal information
in the trash or leave it for someone else to find, even those you
· "Don’t trust the dorm room," Consumer Reports recommends. "Your
dorm room is your home away from home, so it’s natural to feel relaxed
and let your guard down. However, dorm rooms are notoriously open to
many people, some of whom have no qualms about rifling your papers for
information such as bank account numbers, credit card numbers or
Social Security numbers."
· Learn how to get your credit report. Several credit reporting
agencies are available to offer you this service, and the federal Fair
Credit Reporting Act
allows you one free look every year. You can get a credit report by
· Use a firewall program on your computer and avoid email scams,
viruses, Trojan Horses and other threats by deleting questionable emails
and staying away
from websites or links that could be dangerous.
· Don't fall for phone or email scams. If someone calls and asks for
your Social Security Number, full name, birth date, a checking account
number, or any
other personal data, verify the source. Experts suggest never
providing such information over the phone or Internet unless you have
initiated the contact.
· If someone steals your credit card – or even if you misplace it –
report it immediately. Contact your banking institution so they can
transactions and stop thieves from unauthorized purchases, which
could ruin your credit score.
· Use strong passwords for your computer, smartphone, tablet and
other devices. It's also important to frequently change your password,
and to never share
it with anyone else.
· And when using social media, think before you act.
What to do if you’re identity is stolen
It's important to report the theft. You can start by speaking with
campus security or a campus police department, if available. Otherwise,
nearest police department where your college is located.
File a police report. You'll want to tell officers if you know who
might have taken your personal information; when and where it happened;
and any other
details that might be important.
Log on to www.identitytheft.gov
to report your identity theft with the Federal Trade Commission, which
provide you with an important affidavit. The affidavit might be
needed by credit reporting agencies or banks, who will need to help you
straighten out any
issues that arise in your finances.
College is great time for young adults to grow and find themselves.
For most you, it will be the best time of your lives. Don’t let the
college life fade at the hands of criminals.
It's your identity, please keep it that way.