According to the Javelin Strategy and Research 2013 Identity Theft Report, individuals aged 20-29 account for one in five complaints of identity theft reported to the FTC, which is the largest number of complaints among any age group. At the same time, the number of identity theft complaints within this age group filed has increased from 56,635 complaints in 2010 to 57,491 in 2012 according to TribLIVE. These trends suggest hackers and identity thieves are taking more interest in young adults. One of the primary reasons is that college students who generally have good credit scores are much less likely to watch their financial accounts and credit scores.
To protect yourself from fraud, you need to understand identity theft and take all of the precautions to reduce your risk, especially while you are applying to schools and visiting campuses. Below are tips for protecting your identity and your financial future.
Sending College Applications
Going to college starts with a college application. Many students submit multiple applications to various schools. Each time a student sends out an application, his or her personal information is transmitted over the web, which is why you should only send information through secured Internet connections. More importantly, this information should never be transmitted or completed in public places, like libraries or coffee shops that offer free wifi.
With the increasing trend of college-aged student identity theft, it’s a great idea to use services like LifeLock to provide another level of protection against identity theft.
Be Smart with Your Smartphone
According to the same Javelin study mentioned above, seven percent of smartphone users fell victim to identity theft in 2012, one-third more than the general public. It’s important to make sure you are paying attention to your surroundings while you use your smartphone on campus visits and in other public locations. If you do use your smartphone to make financial transactions or to shop, you open yourself up to what is know as “shoulder surfing,” which is when someone looks over you shoulder to steal private information.
Doing Too Much On Social Media
If you have a social media profile that is public, you are more likely to open yourself up to identity theft. Even if you have a private profile, it’s important to protect your personal information. In the age of sharing, it’s easy to share too much. For example, birthday information (month, date, and year), phone numbers and pet’s names call all be used to verify identity or hack passwords. Of course you’ll make new friends while you visit different campuses, but always be wary of who you friend on social networks, as he or she could gain access to information you only intend to share with people you trust.
Quick Campus Tips to Protect Your Identity
- Do not carry your driver’s license and Social Security number together
- Make sure you don’t pay bills or shop on public computers or in libraries
- As you are on campus, make sure you do not give your social security number or any other personal information to solicitors
- If a prospective school uses your SSN for your student identification number, ask for an assigned number instead
About the author: Elliott is an award-winning and nationally recognized public speaker with an innate passion for writing and all things communications.
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