By David Gutierrez
Anyone can experience identity theft. In fact, more than 16 million Americans across all walks of life were victims of identity theft just in 2017. College students can be particularly at risk for identity theft.
Unfamiliar surroundings and new levels of responsibility can increase the odds that college students will experience identity theft. Fortunately, you can take steps right now to protect yourself from identity theft. Let’s go over some identity theft protection tips for students right now.
1. Go Over Identity Theft Prevention Best Practices
The challenges represented by identity theft have been around for years now. This has given the experts time to develop best practices for protecting your identity, no matter where you are. Many of these tips are contained in Andy Michael’s Identity Theft Protection Guide.
Go over these strategies to familiarize yourself with the basics of identity theft protection.
2. Be Careful with Identification Numbers and Passwords
Most people in the U.S. have a number of personal identification numbers and passwords to keep track of. You need to keep the following information private to reduce the odds that you will experience identity theft:
- Social Security Number (SSN)
- Credit or Debit Card Numbers
- Driver’s License Number
- Bank PINs
You should only share these numbers or passwords when absolutely necessary and when you are certain that you are sharing them with a legitimate organization.
3. Avoid Public Wi-Fi Connections
Public wi-fi offers a great deal of convenience, especially when you’re in the middle of class or studying for a big paper. You might not have time to find a secure connection to research Napoleon Bonaparte’s campaigns or the importance of a diamond’s fluorescence. However, public wi-fi connections can allow anyone to see:
- The Sites You Visit
- Passwords You Enter Online
- Emails That You Access
If you absolutely must use public wi-fi, you should consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). VPNs offer you private connections through public wi-fi, which can protect your personal information.
4. Keep Private Information Offline
In the early days of the Internet, many people avoided sharing even their names with people they met online. Times have changed, especially with the advent of social media, which encourages connections with people online.
However, it’s still a good idea to limit the personal information you share online. Identity thieves can gather information that is posted openly on your social media profiles, which could help them crack your passwords.
5. Stay Aware of Your Surroundings
Many individuals know they need to be careful about who can access their private information online. Identity thieves can also strike in the real world. You could discover your identity is stolen if you lose track of your:
- Credit Cards
- Driver’s License
- Student ID Card
Identity thieves can also try to look over your shoulder while you are on your computer or phone. Keep track of what’s going on around you when you are entering sensitive information into any electronic device to protect yourself from identity theft.
6. Use Protective Software on Your Electronic Devices
There are a number of different security options you can use to protect your private data across your computer, mobile phone, tablet, and other electronic devices. Antivirus and antimalware software, for example, can help protect you from:
Make sure that you keep your digital security software up to date, as viruses and other threats are constantly being updated. Maintaining regular updates can protect your information and help you avoid identity theft.
Protect Yourself from Identity Theft Students have many different concerns weighing on their minds. Identity theft must be one of those concerns in today’s world. Fortunately, you can protect yourself from identity theft by:
- Protecting Your Private Information
- Staying Off Public Wi-Fi
- Monitoring Your Surroundings
- Taking Advantage of Security Software