According to the FTC the highest percentage of Identity Theft victims are those between the ages of 20-29. College students are 5 times more likely to be victims of Identity Theft than the general public. College students and parents need to be aware that ID thieves are not really looking for people with lots of money, but those that have good credit. The long term effects of bad credit will affect future jobs, car and home purchases and/or apartment rentals.
The Better Business Bureau recommends that college students take the following precautions to keep identity secure on campus:
- Have sensitive mail sent to a permanent address such as PO Box or parents home address.
- Store important papers under lock and key, which includes your Social Security Card, bank and credit card statements and passport. Shred any documents that have sensitive information. Shred unwanted credit card offers.
- Never loan your credit or debit card to anyone, even a friend. Say no to friends if they want you to co-sign on a loan or finance goods such as TV or computer.
- Keep your antivirus and spyware up to date on your computer – ALWAYS install updates for your operating system and browser software.
- Check credit card and bank statements for suspicious activity. Contact your bank or credit card company immediately if you suspect fraud.
- Check out unknown companies at www.bbb.org .
- Make sure your student ID number is NOT your Social Security number.
- Be careful what you share on social media.
- Don’t open attachments or click on links that you aren’t positive are OK. Attachments and links can contain malware and viruses.
- Don’t fall for “phishing” scams.
- Don’t install “free” software without checking it out first. Many “free” packages come loaded with spyware, adware and worse.
- Password your cell phone. Smart phone users experience a third more identity theft than the general public.
- Get a credit report once a year. A free credit report is available from the three major Credit Reporting Agencies, once a year from www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228.
For further questions contact your local Better Business Bureau.