Avoid the tragedy of college identity theft

October 23, 2008

Protect yourself at all times and keep your guard up. We just got back from San Diego CA from a nice three-day weekend. It turns out that our car was targeted for theft. The villainous thieves drilled out the drivers side lock to obtain access to the interior of the vehicle.

Lucky for us the only thing of value in the vehicle was a few folding chairs, a greatest hits CD, a half dozen empty water bottles and In-N-Out Burger wrappers. So nothing was taken.

As a college student you must be smart. Mom & Dad are not there to protect you. So, you must be aware of your surroundings and guard your identity diligently.

Here are a couple things you can do to protect yourself and your belongings.

Never give a friend your credit card or debt card. Never.

Get a club for your car and never leave anything of value in your vehicle.

If you're going off to college, ask the college not to use your Social Security Number as your college ID number. If someone asks for your Social Security Number ask if it is really necessary for you to give it to them.

Be on the lookout for free offers and verification notifications. Banks and credit card companies will never send you an email or text message to verify your login and identification. No you did not win the European or African Lottery.

Social networking pages like MySpace and Facebook are entertaining however never share personal information that can put you at risk for identity theft.

A stolen laptop is a way to obtain someone’s personal information. Over the last 6 months, 1 out of 4 data breaches affecting colleges and universities stemmed from the theft of laptops at the registrar's office. Use a password on your laptop you will remember but would be difficult for someone to guess. Pick up a laptop security cable and fasten it to the desk in your apartment or dorm room. Do you really need to bring the laptop to every class? If you do bring it to class don’t let it out of your site for a single second. This also goes for iPods and MP3 players, keep them secure. (Because you should be downloading lectures and notes to your iPods… right???)  One last suggestion on laptops is to have your name engraved on it. Some college campuses can provide that service.

Cell Phones, don’t store identifying names, companies, or especially login information or PINs on your cell phone. All this information can be easily extracted from a stolen cell phone. If you lose your cell phone, contact your provider immediately.

For more information on identity theft and prevention visit www.ssa.gov/pubs/10064.html

College is a time of great memories, building lasting friendships and higher learning. Being aware is half the battle.

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