Keep Your College Student from Becoming a Victim of Identity Theft

Identity Theft

(Photo Credit: Identity Theft Protection)

Identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in the country, according to the FBI.  College students are especially vulnerable to this type of fraud for a couple reasons: They lack an understanding of how important it is to keep personal information safe, especially in this era of excessive sharing through social media, and because they come with clean credit histories which they are unlikely to monitor.  We have a responsibility to educate our college-age students about identity theft and how to prevent it.

Prevention Tips

  • Tell your children what identity theft is and how it could affect them if they are not careful. It is vital that anyone going away for college has a clear understanding of the issue and the consequences if certain measures are not taken.

  • Despite having a clean credit history, it’s necessary for college students to check their credit regularly. This is a good way to keep an eye out for fraudulent activity and accounts opened in their name.

  • Explain to your children that when shopping online, they must only use secure websites. This must be the rule if they are going to use a bank or credit cards online. The best way to recognize a secure website: There is an “s” on the end of “http.” This provides customers with peace of mind that payment information will be kept confidential.

  • Teach your college students to always use a firewall and a quality antivirus and malware program. This program should be updated regularly to ensure the latest version is being employed and the maximum protection.

  • Consider signing the whole family up for an identity theft protection service such as LifeLock. This is the ideal way to keep personal information secure. Such services monitor their clients’ accounts and offer them fraud alerts, guidance and resources on how to keep personal information safe.

Basic Security Measures

  • Your children should have a secure place to store their Social Security card, personal documents, credit cards and mail.

  • Teach your children to keep their campus apartments or dorm rooms locked to stop people from going through their personal belongings.

  • Invest in a paper shredder. This is the best way to eliminate documents no longer needed.

  • Instruct your college students to create a separate list of all their account information and banks’ phone numbers. This makes it easy to report a card as misplaced or stolen. They should also keep the phone numbers of the three major credit bureaus handy in case anything suspicious happens.

We are responsible for sending our children out in the world armed with good facts about protecting themselves. With these simple tips, we can educate these young adults so they don’t fall prey to identity thieves.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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