Identity theft is a crime that affects as many as 10 million Americans every year. And due to the amount of personal data generated and distributed by students and how it’s handled, they may actually be more vulnerable to identity theft than most.
- Students are prime targets for identity theft.
- Personal computers can be used to access your identity.
- Credit card theft is a popular and damaging form of fraud.
Students Huge Targets For Identity Theft
With your student identification and transcript tied to your Social Security number as well as having to handle student loans, students often have more outlets for hackers to access their identification than any other demographic.
When you add to that all the targeted credit card applications, online purchases and stored personal information in cell phones and computers, identity theft seems almost inevitable. Therefore, you must be very cautious when handling important and personal information.
Avoid providing your Social Security and credit card number online unless you are sure the site is safe. Keep in mind that almost no one actually needs your Social, unless you’re applying for a new card or verifying certain information.
Because of the many sites that handle financial information, your computer may contain access. Keep it in a safe place and make sure it’s password-protected. If your computer is stolen and you fear it’s an open door to your accounts, call the issuer(s) and alert them or cancel your cards altogether.
On that note, remember that computers are subject to malicious spyware, so always update your security software.
Computers: Your Biggest Giveaway
While online services can allow savvy identity thieves access to your personal identification, credit card theft is probably even more frightening.
Fraudulent use of your credit card can result in loss of money and loss of credibility. This can take years to recover and restore, which is why it is so important to protect yourself from credit card theft. Therefore, you must know how thieves gain access to credit card information.
Scammers will also pretend to be financial institutions or companies and will send spam messages such as “Your bank account will be closed” or “You’ve won a cash prize” to entice you to reveal your information. Use good judgement to avoid clicking on pop-ups or answering spam.
Never reply to emails asking you to give over information, even if they appear to be from your financial institution. Banks and credit card companies will never ask you to reveal your information over email. If you get a suspicious email, call your bank or visit their website; do not respond to the email directly.
Protect your Credit Card From Hackers
More sophisticated technology has even enabled card skimming. When using an ATM look for any awkward protuberance placed over the card reader and keypad; these may record your access information. Try to use an ATM at a bank in a well-lit vestibule. These have the least chance of being infiltrated.
By reading your credit card statements promptly and carefully, you can catch any fraudulent charges. If a card disappears, immediately call the issuer and cancel it. Laws to protect consumers state that once you report the loss or theft of a card, you are no longer responsible for unauthorized charges.
Potential thieves will also rummage through the trash looking for bills or other pieces of paper with your name on it. Stay safe by shredding or destroying papers that contain personal information.
When it comes to personal identity it’s better to be safe than sorry, and if it seems to good to be true, it is.
- Student ID cards, accessing grades via Social Security number and handling student loans are a few reasons students are key targets for identity theft.
- Protect the personal information on your computer with passwords.
- Credit card theft can cause loss of money and credibility and take years to recover.
- Identity thieves can gather your personal information by rummaging through the trash, phishing, stealing and changing your billing address.