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Identity Theft: Why College Students are Prime Targets

Mar 9, 2011 Ben Pfeiffer, Columnist | 0 Comments

Think you don’t have to worry about identity theft as a college student? Think again. College students are at high risk of identity theft—for a variety of reasons. As a college student, you’re likely to be less savvy about protecting your personal information—and living in an environment that makes it easy for thieves to find the information they need about you. Here are just a few reasons why, as a college student, you should worry about identity theft—and be vigilant in protecting your information.

Because your credit history is a clean slate

It’s relatively easy to get new credit as a college student. Just take a look at the way credit card companies aggressively market to college students. Identity thieves can easily open new credit cards using assumed names, often without the type of checks and balances that are required for those with a more established credit history.

Because you live in a public space

Living in dorms doesn’t exactly encourage privacy. When you live in a dorm, everyone knows your business—and it’s easy to get to your mail. All it takes is your roommate having the wrong people over, someone leaving your
dorm room door unlocked, or careless misplacement of a credit card bill.
The majority of dorm-room robberies are done by someone the victim knows.

Burglar Stealing Computer

Protecting your identity isn’t easy-especially as a college student.




Because you order online

College students are much more likely to buy things online than the general population. Even though security for online purchasing has improved immensely, it’s still more risky to buy over the Internet than it is to make a purchase in person at a store.

Because you have an online presence

Students aren’t just more likely to order online. They’re also likely to have blogs, Facebook accounts, Twitter and Flickr accounts, and other social media accounts that display all kinds of sensitive personal information about them—and that are available to anyone enterprising enough to do a simple Google search. Be sure your social media accounts don’t display anything personal—such as your address, phone number, or even your full name.

In addition, be sure you log out of any site on a public computer before leaving. This is a common mistake, especially if you’re using the library computer to access your email or Facebook account. Leaving yourself logged in on a public computer is like leaving a gift to identity thieves.

Because you’re not likely to shred your documents

College students often don’t think to shred credit card applications and other sensitive documents—and if you do, you probably just rip it a few times before tossing it—it’s not likely that you own a shredder. According to Impulse Research, approximately 49% of all college students receive new credit card offers in the mail—and 30% of them don’t shred the documents before throwing them away. Identity thieves often go through trash to find credit card offers and apply to them in the name of the person the offer is addressed to—so it’s important to shred those documents past any possibility of repatching if you want to avoid getting your identity stolen.

Because you don’t keep track of your checking account and credit card balances

The same study suggests that approximately 30% of college students aren’t careful about checking their account balances regularly. The less vigilant you are about checking your accounts, the more likely it is that an identity thief will get away with stealing from you.

Because your college identifies you by your Social Security number

Many colleges use students’ social security numbers as an ID number. And that ID number appears everywhere—on campus ID cards, class attendance lists, checks, and other items that are constantly shared among students, faculty, and staff. Some colleges even post student social security numbers next to their grades. It’s extremely easy for identity thieves to find out your social security number when you’re in school.

Protecting your identity isn’t easy—especially as a college student. Be aware of the risks you face. By simply shredding credit card offers and making sure your personal documents are hidden where roommates and visitors can’t get to them, you can significantly reduce your likelihood of being targeted. Be mindful of personal documents in your dorm room and giving out personal information online, and check your accounts regularly—and hopefully you’ll be able to protect yourself.

Tips to Help College Student Fight Identity Theft -


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