- Put a cross-cut shredder and lock box on your back-to-campus list – and use them. Keep laptops, tablets and Social Security cards in the lock box.
- Never carry your Social Security card with you, and do not give out your Social Security number without verifying who is requesting it and why.
- Check that your school uses a student identification number that isn't your Social Security number. Request that they do in your instance if they do not do this as a standard practice.
- Be wary of peer-to-peer file sharing programs and unsecure WiFi networks, and use up-to-date computer security software.
- Resist the urge to over share personal information. Avoid noting your birth date, high school name or pet's name on social media sites as these are often answers to security questions asked by institutions to validate your identity. Also, don't divulge personal information or social networking/Internet login information over the phone or in an email without verifying the requestor's credentials. It's ok to refuse to divulge that information if you're suspicious about the requestor's credibility.
- Avoid the myriad credit card sign-up booths on campus and use your cross-cut shredder to destroy mailed credit card offers you will not use. If you must, select one card from a reputable credit card company and use it instead of a debit card for purchases, as credit cards provide extra layers of fraud prevention.
- Add a password to your smartphone. Javelin's report indicates smartphone owners experience identity theft 1/3 more than the general public. Since many people store passwords, personal information and account information on their devices, if a phone is stolen and there is no password the thief will have access to all of that private information.
- Be aware of your surroundings including "shoulder surfers" and other suspicious activity. "Shoulder surfing" occurs when someone snaps a photo of your account over your shoulder.
- Check your credit score throughout the year and your bank and credit card statements monthly to quickly identify any suspicious or fraudulent activity. If you suspect fraud, contact your bank or credit card company immediately. Ask one of the three credit reporting agencies to put a fraud alert on your credit report. That agency will notify the other two.
- Parents, consider purchasing identify theft protection coverage for your college student. Such policies can cover the expenses involved in restoring one's identity for a minimal cost. For example, Erie Insurance's Identity Recovery and Fraud Reimbursement Coverage can cover costs associated with re-filing loans or grants and legal fees as well as working with the three major credit bureaus and others to close fraudulent accounts and restore credit ratings quickly.
College Students Increasingly Victims Of ID Theft
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