10 Tips to Prevent ID Theft for College Students
- Shred important documents that can be dug out of the trash, and use a lock box to keep laptops, tablets and Social Security cards safe.
- Keep your Social Security card locked up instead of on you – leave it at home in the lock box and never in your wallet or purse. Also, do not give out your number to just anyone. Verify who is the person requesting it, and why they need it.
- Some schools will issue a student ID number in lieu of having to use your Social Security number. If they do, use it! If it’s not standard practice at your university, try requesting that they do in your instance.
- Technology can be sneaky, so be aware of peer-to-peer file sharing programs and unsecure WiFi networks. Invest in new computer security software to be extra safe.
- In the world of social media, it’s easy to overshare personal information. Resist the urge as these platforms can be an easy way for digital deviants to search for possible password clues. i.e. your pet’s name, mother’s maiden name, etc.
- Signing up for your first credit card can be exciting but solicitors are everywhere on campus. Avoid credit card sign-up booths and use a document shredder to destroy mailed credit card offers you will not use. Don’t give a thief a chance to go on a shopping spree at your expense!
- Your smartphone carries a plethora of important personal information, so add a password to protect yourself in case it’s lost or stolen.
- Avoid “shoulder surfers” – those people who can sneakily take a photo of your account over your shoulder when your accessing your online data in a public, or even semi-public place. You can even purchase a privacy screen that will keep your screen blacked out from other angles so people sitting next to you on the train, bus or favorite coffee shop can’t catch a glimpse.
- Keep tabs on your credit score during the year and monitor bank statements regularly to ensure there is no foul play. If you notice a fraudulent charge, contact your bank or credit card company immediately. They will be able to assist and explain what to do next.
- Parents should also consider getting identify theft coverage for their college students. For a minimal cost, Erie Insurance’s Identity Recovery and Fraud Reimbursement Coverage can cover costs associated with re-filing loans or grants and legal fees as well as working with the three major credit bureaus and others to close fraudulent accounts and restore credit ratings quickly.
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