How College Students Can Protect Themselves Against Identity Theft
By Jane Hurst
Internet crimes are on the rise, and one of the biggest is identity theft. You don’t even have to go online yourself to be a victim of this crime. Some of the most innocent of transactions can lead to identity theft. As a college student, you are prey to many unscrupulous types who have no problem destroying your credit, and your future. Here are some ways that you can protect yourself from identity theft.
Keep Financial Records at Home – You don’t need to have all of your financial information in your dorm room. If you do have it with you, you are at a high risk for identity theft. Leave this stuff at home. If you need to access the information, give your parents a call and they will arrange for you to get it safely, or fax it to financial institutions if it involves your student loans.
Create Secure Passwords – Creating a password can be a real pain, but it is more important than you may think. Don’t use things in your password that can be easily figured out by someone else, such as your birthday, your school’s name, your pet’s name, etc. Instead, come up with something that you can easily remember, but that has letters, numbers, and symbols. A good way to do this is by creating a sentence that has meaning to you, such as, “I love to eat pizza at 3 a.m.”, and then use the first letter of each word, plus the numbers and periods, so you have, “ILTEPA3.A.”
Stick with One Credit Card – You are a student. You don’t need to have multiple credit cards. If you do apply for many cards, your information is on those applications, and you have no idea who is going to see them. If you must have a credit card, stick with just one, and don’t be tempted by credit offers that sound too good to be true.
Check Your Credit Score – It is important that you know your credit score, and that you check it regularly. You can get do this for free online, and it only takes a few minutes. If you are careful with your finances, but your score is low, this is a clue that someone has been messing with your financial information, and you can nip it in the bud before it gets any worse. Read identity theft protection reviews at No Identity Theft to choose best ID theft protection.
Be Smart about Public WiFi – You are likely going to be using your laptop in any number of places that offer a connection. You need to be extremely careful about what you are doing online when using public WiFi. Do not enter any financial information, and avoid online banking until you have a secure connection.
Don’t Share Info on Social Media – People are way too quick these days to share their personal information on their social media pages. You may think that a post is completely innocent, but a criminal may see something in it that can lead them to your financial accounts, and to steal your identity. Avoid talking about family names, pet names, financial info, and anything else that could help a criminal steal your identity.
Restrict Access to Your Personal Computer – Your roommates, friends, and classmates may ask from time to time to use your personal computer. If possible, don’t let anyone else use your computer. You never know what they may be doing, and if they are doing something illegal, it is you who is going to get into trouble, not them. It is a good idea to make sure that your computer is password restricted, so only you can access it.
Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot. Follow Jane on Twitter!