Ways to Avoid Identity Theft
According to the Federal Trade Commission, 18-29-year olds are the group most commonly victimized by identity theft.
While there is no guarantee the following measures will safeguard your student from perpetrators, they offer important considerations to share with your student about identity protection:
- Keep personal information to yourself and keep it secure. Don't give credit or debit card numbers, personal identification numbers (PIN) or passwords to anyone. Be aware of where you store a purse or wallet when it is not with you and keep your residence hall room locked when you or your roommate are not there.
- Be sure your PIN doesn't use obvious or consecutive numbers and chose your passwords carefully.
- Shred pre-approved credit offers and documents containing personal information prior to disposing of them.
- Monitor credit card, banking and other statements and report unauthorized activity. Know your billing cycle so you can be aware of bills that never arrive.
- Be cautious when asked to give personal or financial information over the phone or Internet. Give minimal information only and question why it is needed.
- Don't fall victim to phishing techniques. Be wary of e-mails that are seemingly from your bank or other business institutions and ask you to verify or disclose personal information.
- If you use the Internet for online banking and/or to make purchases, be sure you have good firewall, anti-virus and spyware removal software. Never use anyone else's computer (especially public ones) when giving personal information.
- When using your own computer, never download files sent to you by strangers or click on hyperlinks from persons you don't know.
- Consider ordering a credit report once a year to verify your records are in good standing. The three major bureaus are: Transunion (1-800-680-7289), Equifax (1-800-525-6285) and Experian (1-888-397-3742). If your purse/wallet gets lost or stolen and/or your personal information becomes easily accessible to others, contact the bureaus and place a free, 90-day fraud alert on your credit report.
Visit the U.S. Department of Education for more information about identity protection against theft and other fraudulent practices.