College students make up the largest single demographic of all identity theft victims, well over 30%. Do you know a college student or high school senior who needs to know why they are at high risk for identity theft and what they can do about it?
College life is a special time in a young adult’s life. Often college students are no longer living at home, yet they’re not completely on their own either as they live communally in apartments or dorms. For the first time many have taken out their first loan, a college loan and many college students are first time credit card holders as well. During what many will later call “the time of their life” these young adults are at the highest risks for a range of things from athlete’s foot to traffic accidents.
There’s often other risky business going on in colleges and universities as well. Identity theft is a real threat for unsuspecting college students as well. College students make up the largest single demographic of all identity theft victims, well over 30%.
In the past three years alone, over 8 million college students, faculty and staff have had their information stolen from within the school setting.
Universities are being called on to be accountable for the common use and casual security of social security numbers. Many are responding with new Identification systems like randomly assigned numbers and more secure data storage policies but families and students themselves are going to have to do their parts to protect the more vulnerable college students as they are the most affected by the consequences.
College Students are High Risk? Why?
* College students are new credit applicants, who generally still have “clean credit” and this makes them an attractive target.
*Half of all college students are receiving pre-approved credit offers in the mail daily, which also increases their risk of being targeted.
*Communal living means less privacy and protected space. Often even computers are shared.
*Colleges often use social security numbers as a means of identifying students and even posting grades and that leaves large numbers of employees and even student employees with access to social security numbers- the key to unlocking and unleashing a new identity.
*Only 33% of college students surveyed balanced their checkbooks each month. Without a close scrutiny of accounts, college students are unlikely to spot identity theft in time.
*College students often carry around “their life” in their backpack or purse, which really increases their risk if it is stolen.
Identity Theft 101: Protect Yourself
*College students have to balance checkbooks down to every pint of, ah, pizza and carefully check statements. It’s a great habit for life anyway but it can help you catch identity theft before it has gotten too out of hand.
*Consider a small safe or lock box for the dorm room for important papers with personal information.
*Consider a shredder and shred all identifying correspondence, especially any credit card offers and then recycle.
*Install the best security software on affordable on your computer and make sure you know how to use it.
*Create strong passwords and keep them well hidden. Don’t share toothbrushes or computers.
Do you know a college student who needs to take Identity Theft: 101? Awareness is a very important part of staying protected so be sure to forward this to your favorite freshman or special senior.