Posted on 2014-09-03 09:00:23
College students, beware. Identity thieves know your vulnerability! Studies show you are five times more likely to become an identity theft victim than anyone else. What makes college students such easy targets? Probably foremost is indifference. College students simply don’t see themselves as being at risk of identity theft. Because they don’t see the risk, they don’t take precautions to minimize their risk. Understand that Identity thieves use both high tech and low tech schemes to get the personal information they need to commit identity theft. They will look for the weak link, whether that is an unlocked dorm room or an unprotected smartphone. Here are six tips to help college students minimize their risk of becoming an identity theft victim. Check your credit score now! Guard your personal information. Don’t become robotic about handing over your personal information—especially your Social Security number—anytime someone asks for it. Turn the tables. Ask why it is needed. If you don’t get a good answer, don’t hand it over. Go paperless as much as possible. Identity thieves try to intercept credit cards and statements in the mail. Going paperless can help minimize your identity footprint. Consider a post office box over a campus mailbox that may not be as secure. Keep tabs on your financial statements. Check your financial accounts frequently with more than a cursory glance. If something is amiss, the sooner you catch it, the better you are able to minimize damage. Use common sense online. Don’t conduct personal business over unsecured WiFi connections. Do your homework before using peer-to-peer file sharing. Some will expose your computer to unauthorized access. Don’t over share on social media sites. Chances are good you are “friends” with people you don’t even know. Use a paper shredder. Don’t be careless about tossing documents—even credit card solicitations. With just a few pieces of key information, it’s easy for an identity thief to create a new identity. Shred, shred, shred! Consider a credit monitoring service. With so many responsibilities to manage, you may find the nominal fee for a credit monitoring service like MyFreeScoreNow to be well worth it. For less than the cost of a few lattes each month, you can rest assured knowing your credit report is being monitored around the clock, and you will be alerted when there are changes you should be aware of. A trial membership comes with a free credit score and credit report.