College Students Vulnerable to Identity Theft
College students made up roughly 25% of all victims of identity theft last year. According to the Better Business Bureau every 3 seconds someone is a victim of identity theft, that is approximately 18 Million victims each year!
Some reasons for this shocking statistic are that college age students are not as careful with personal information, typically share housing with others, and do not have access to identity theft protection services. This type of identity theft typically occurs when a roommate steals credit card information or credit card information is discovered in dumpsters. Once identity theft has occurred, most victims are unaware because they do not have identity theft protection or account alerts setup.
Some suggested strategies to reduce the risk of identity theft are:
Opt Out on Pre-approved Cards – College students are still receiving pre-approved credit cards in the mail even though the Credit Card Act of 2009 was supposed to stop this practice. One way college students can eliminate this problem is to go to OptOutprescreen.com and opt-out of these mailings.
Shred Sensitive Documents – Just as Mom and Dad shred sensitive documents so should college age students. Along with the laptop and fridge, buy you son or daughter a good paper shredder before they leave for college.
Go Paperless – Identity Theft is much more difficult if there are no documents to steal out of the dumpster. Help your college student by logging on to their credit card account with them and show them how to sign up for paperless billing.
Enroll in Identity Theft Protection – If your college age student must have a credit card, be sure to enroll them in an Identity Theft Protection service. These services monitor credit card activity and contact you if suspicious activity is detected.
Check Credit Report Annually – Checking your credit report annually is a smart way to catch errors but it is also free. Logon to annualcreditreport.com
Secure Your Technology – Identity Theft also occurs when wifi or other telecommunications transmissions are intercepted and mined for personal data. This information is then sold almost instantly to anyone with access to a computer and the internet. Update your technology with the latest virus and spyware software and make sure it is monitored for threats.
These suggestions won't eliminate Identity Theft but it will reduce the chances that you will become a victim.