18 Precautions Against Identity Theft for College Students

From: Why College Students Are at High Risk of Identity Theft
Article from the Financial Times Press, written by Steve Weisman.

It is an unfortunate fact of life today that we are all vulnerable to identity theft because even if you are taking all necessary precautions, you may become a victim due to a hacking of any of the many companies or governmental agencies that hold personal information about you. Many people believe that it is not a question of if you will become a victim of identity theft, but when. However, that is no reason to not take the utmost precautions in protecting your identity.

So what should college students do to protect themselves? Here is a list of some important precautions:

  1. Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Lock it up.
  2. Lock up all your important papers with personal information.
  3. Don’t download attachments or click on links unless you are positive that they are legitimate.
  4. Install security software and anti-malware software on all of your electronic devices and keep them current.
  5. Keep your computer, smartphone, tablet and all electronic devices locked when not in use.
  6. Use strong passwords and different passwords for all of your devices.
  7. Shred, shred, shred papers with personal information that you do not need to keep.
  8. Keep your important papers that you must have at school locked in a secure place in your room.
  9. Have important mail sent to your home address. It is more secure.
  10. Take yourself off of marketing lists for pre-approved credit cards at www.optoutprescreen.com. If you do get such solicitations, shred them.
  11. Check your credit report annually with each of the three major credit-reporting agencies, Equifax, Transunion and Experian. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com. This is the only website that is authorized by the federal government to provide you with a free copy of your credit report. There are many copycat websites that appear to offer a free credit report, but in the fine print, you may find that you have signed up for a continuing service you may not need.
  12. Adjust the privacy settings on your social network sites to make it more difficult for people you don’t know to view your information or post material on your page.
  13. Understand the privacy policy of the social networking sites you use and with whom they share information.
  14. Don’t store personal information on your laptop or smartphone.
  15. Encrypt all data on your electronic devices.
  16. Be wary of WiFi and don’t use it for financial transactions.
  17. Limit the information you share on social media.
  18. Check www.scamicide.com regularly to be informed about the latest scams and identity theft schemes as well as what you can do about them.

There are no guarantees in life and there certainly is no guarantee that you will not become a victim of identity theft; but by taking some basic precautions, you can certainly narrow your chances of becoming a victim.