Every three seconds someone’s identity is stolen according to the Javelin Strategy & Research 2012 Identity Theft Report – and college students are increasingly one of the biggest targets of identity theft.
There are several reasons why college students are a prime target for identify theft, said Joe Vahey, vice president and product manager at Erie Insurance. Not only do they usually have pristine credit records but they also are exposed to many situations that can leave them unknowingly vulnerable to becoming an identity theft victim.
Below are some tips from Erie Insurance to help prevent college students from becoming identity theft victims:
Keep laptops, tablets, and smart phones secure with strong passwords
Never give out your Social Security number without verifying who is requesting it and why
Be wary of file sharing programs and unsecure WiFi networks
Avoid noting your birth date, high school name or pet’s name on social media sites as these are often answers to security questions asked by institutions to validate your identity
Check credit scores throughout the year and bank and credit card statements monthly
With just a few pieces of a college student’s personal information, new credit lines can be opened, bank accounts can be drained, fraudulent tax returns can be filed, medical services can be sought and a student’s name can even be provided as an alias to police upon an arrest.
All of these circumstances can cost thousands of dollars to correct and can even cost new graduates job opportunities as credit and background checks are routinely performed by employers.