College Students At Risk For Identity Theft

September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month. I helped Uni-Ball conduct a survey of 1,000 college students and 1,000 parents. The survey revealed that while about 74% of parents believe students are at a moderate to high risk for identity theft, and 30% of all identity theft victims are between 18 and 29, only 21% of students are concerned about identity theft.

It’s no surprise that most college students are indifferent when it comes to their personal and information security. When you are in your late teens or early twenties, you feel a sense of invincibility. However, once you have a few years under your belt, you begin to mature and gradually realize the world isn’t all about keg parties and raves.

Here are a few more interesting statistics:

  • 89% of parents have discussed safety measures with their kids, yet kids continue to engage in risky behavior
  • 40% of students leave their apartment or dorm doors unlocked
  • 40% of students have provided their Social Security numbers online
  • 50% of students shred sensitive data
  • 9% of students share online passwords with friends
  • 1 in 10 have allowed strangers into their apartments

College students have always been easy marks because their credit is ripe for the taking. Students’ Social Security numbers have traditionally been openly displayed on student badges, testing information, and in filing cabinets and databases all over campus. Landlords and others involved in campus housing also have access to students identifying information.

Any parent sending a child off to college should be concerned.

Limit the amount of information you give out. While you may have to give out certain private data in certain circumstances, you should refuse whenever possible.

Shred everything! Old bank statements, credit card statements, credit card offers, and any other documents containing account numbers need to be shredded when no longer needed.

Lock down your PC. Make sure your Internet security software is up to date. Install spyware removal software. Secure your wireless connection. Use strong passwords that include upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers. And never share passwords.

Be alert for online scams. Never respond to emails or text messages that appear to come from your bank. Always log into your bank account manually via your favorites menu.

When sending students back to school, consider protecting your family with a subscription to an identity theft protection service, such as McAfee Identity Protection, which offers proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on any of your accounts. For additional tips, please visit http://www.counteridentitytheft.com

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