7 Tips for College Students to Prevent Identity Theft

Identity theft is on the rise among college students, and safeguarding personal information and identity is more important than ever. Personal information such as date of birth and social security number is easily stolen from accessible documents. Unsecure dorm rooms provide easy access to passports, social security cards, bank statements, and medical records.

Personal information is also commonly stolen from electronic devices, including laptops, cell phones and non-secure wireless networks, along with information gleaned from social media profiles.

College students are especially vulnerable to identity theft. In fact, a college student is at a greater risk for identity theft than the general population. This is mainly because they live in close quarters, and are often lax with handling and protecting their personal information—including their information online.

According to the latest Bureau of Justice report, the majority of identity theft incidents (85%) involved the fraudulent use of existing account information, such as credit card or bank account information.

Your risk of identity theft can be reduced greatly by following these 7 tips:

1. Keep documents with personal information out of sight and locked in a dorm room safe.

Keep your drivers’ license, social security card, bank statements, medical records, and other types of documents that include your personal information out of site. Better yet, keep them locked securely in a dorm room safe. This affordable security precaution has the additional advantages of protecting these important documents from theft and from fire or water damage.

2. Don’t post personal information on social media.

Posting personal information on social media can leave you vulnerable to identity theft. Thieve can use your social profile to gain access to your personal information, including your full name, hometown, current location, phone number, and school locations. It’s also advisable to not post where you are on your social media profile.

3. Use secure passwords and logins for computers, laptops and mobile devices.

Set up a username/password login on your laptop or computer and a password on your mobile phone to avoid providing easy access to these devices. Hackers can easily access your personal, medical and financial information through weak passwords and logins. Always choose a secure password and change it frequently to avoid getting your information in the wrong hands.

4. Make sure all online activity is performed on a secure router and network.

In addition to having secure passwords, it’s essential that your online activity is being performed on a secure router and network. Hackers and identity thieves can easily gain access to your info through a non-secure wireless network or unsecured router. This is especially true at coffee shops and other places with public Wi-Fi networks.

5. Keep checkbooks, bank statements, credit cards and credit information hidden.

Your financial records, including credit card and bank statements provide easy access for identity thieves. Keep checkbooks, debit and credit cards, and financial statements and information hidden. If you bank online, or when buying things online, look for the SSL secure icon in the URL and never perform financial activities over public Wi-Fi.

6. Keep antivirus and malware software up to date for all devices.

Antivirus and malware software can keep hackers and identity thieves from accessing your information. Keep your computer OS, installed programs, and all antivirus and malware software up to date.

7. Install a security lock on laptops.

It’s a good idea to install a security lock for your laptop to prevent thieves from taking off with it and accessing your information.

Following the above tips can help you protect your personal information, so you won’t fall victim to identity theft.