Identity Theft: What College Students Need To Know

How to Reduce Your Risk of Identity Theft While at College

Identity theft can be more of a concern for college students than any other age group. College students have unique living arrangements and a unique lifestyle that makes them more susceptible to identity theft crimes. If you or someone you know started college this year or will be heading off to college the next, there are some identity theft risks you need to know about.

Your Right To Privacy Just Vanished

Sharing a small dorm room with a roommate can be a wakeup call for many college freshman. What they often don’t realize is that because they are too busy adjusting to bunk beds and conflicting schedules, their personal and financial information can be at risk and their risk of identity theft is higher than it has ever been.

If you are like most college students, you probably have several credit cards. Having credit cards presents a problem because it requires being very attentive to where you store your those cards and your credit card statements. Your roommate might be trustworthy, but what about all the times you leave the door to your room open to go grab a quick snack or visit a classmate upstairs? What about the people your roommate invites over? When you’re in college, a lot of people have access to your room -- and that includes access to your personal and financial information.

Who’s Getting Your Mail?

Another problem is that college students often have a new address every year, and it is inevitable that your credit card statements may end up at the wrong address no matter how far in advance you notify your credit card companies. College students also have a long winter break when they aren’t on campus to get their mail, and summer break also presents a problem. If you’re not around to get your mail, who’s to say someone else won’t be? Everyone knows that mailboxes are a playground for identity theft criminals.

Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft

If you’re a college student with credit cards you should take certain precautions to reduce your risk of identity theft. You might consider receiving your credit card statements electronically rather than getting paper statements. If you get paper statements, you will have to make sure you lock them up. Invest in a box or filing cabinet that comes with a lock. In a small dorm room, you might not have room for a filing cabinet, and if you go home for a long weekend, there isn’t much stopping an identity theft criminal from getting your locked box opened. You can opt to have your credit card statements sent to your parents home if that would make you feel more secure.

You should definitely lock up your social security card and only keep it on campus with you if you anticipate that you will definitely need it. You also need to be careful about where you put your purse or wallet. Think of all the times you leave your backpack and wallet unattended: in the locker room when you go to workout, in the library when you are looking for books, in the cafeteria when you go to stand in line.

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