BY SUSAN PARKER
In a recent report, it was discovered that identity theft was the number one subject of most complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission, through its Consumer Sentinel Network.
It was also revealed that Americans lost approximately $16 billion to identity thieves in 2014.
If you’re thinking most of the victims are the elderly and aged ones, think again. It was discovered that majority of these identity theft victims were young people of college age. And the reason is not far-fetched.
While college students are not known for being heavily cash-strapped individuals, their use of public internet to access various websites via public computers is one of the several reasons why they’re perfect for identity theft.
Most of these students share rooms, share lockers and many other things. This “sharing” reduces security drastically and makes them vulnerable to any kind of attack on their identity.
As a student, you don’t have to wait till you’re a victim of identity theft before you learn. This article will show you 3 ways you can prevent identity theft as a college student.
- Secure your tech life
What would a student be without the internet? The internet helps you to conduct research, hire tutors, buy essay, and find answers to that tough assignment, or stay in touch with that lovely friend you just met and many more.
But, sadly enough, the internet is filled with many bad guys, waiting to take advantage of you. One of the things you can do to ensure you stay safe, is to avoid using unsecure internet access.
You should also reduce how much information you use a public computer to access. If you’ll be making any purchases online, be sure that the website is not a phishing website. Before you give any website your credit card for purchases, make sure the address starts with “https” – see the Oberlo dropshipping app for a great example.
As for all your gadgets, set passwords on them. This increases your safety and scrutinizes who sees what. If you’ve been a victim of malware attack and you’re being held in ransom, don’t fret.
Instead of making payments that don’t necessarily guarantee that your files will be released, it’s easier and safer to sign up for a malware removal plan from a provider like Tech to Us.
- Keep your eyes peeled
One important way to prevent identity theft is to always be up-to-date as regards your sensitive information. Without this practice, it’ll be hard to notice if and when anything goes wrong.
As such, ensure that you take a regular look at your bank and credit card accounts to spot any unusual transactions. Back in the days, this wasn’t usually readily available. But, with access to the internet via your PC and smartphones, you can keep track of goings-on in your account.
You can also subscribe to get free credit report from multiple agencies in a year. This only makes sure that nothing finds its way past you in terms of being updated about your financial statements.
Speaking of financial statements, take the time to read in between the lines when going through them. I know, those things can be boring, especially if you’re not studying finance or accounting.
But, since you won’t be making so many purchases as a student, you should be able to read through in no time. It’ll go a long way in helping you know whether somebody in another continent is tampering with your account or not.
- Step up your security game
Your living in a dorm with other students or strangers can leave you and your personal information exposed and unprotected. If you want to prevent identity theft as a college student, you must bring your days of being careless with almost everything to an end.
While there are many tools that can help you with this, most of the hard work has to be done by you. And you can start by always making sure your dorm room is locked.
Another thing you can do is to ensure your safe is always locked. Get a padlock or something to ensure your security.
While it’s tempting to give your ATM card to your friend to make a withdrawal for you, don’t do that. If you can’t make the withdrawal at that moment by yourself, you can do it later. Never give your credit card to anyone. Keep your wallet in sight (and out of the reach of others) at all times.
Although this article has three numbered points, it’s filled with quite a number of actionable tips. So, go ahead, start practicing them and insure yourself against identity theft.
Susan Parker is a writer and tech geek. She volunteers for local environmental conservation programs and writes stories online about things that inspire her.