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College Students: How to Protect Yourself from Identity Thieves

08.04.2008 · Posted in Finance Articles

It should really be no surprise that since 2005, more than a third of the victims of identity theft in the United States are college students. That’s because students rarely take precautions to protect themselves agains identity theft, because lots of people have potential access to their personal information, and because they are the recipients of a ton of credit card and other commercial junk mailings.rnrnHere are some suggestions from LifeLock CEO Todd Davis on how college students can protect themselves against identity thieves.rnrn1. Purchasing and using a shredder is a must. Shred everything which can identify you before discarding it. Everything…no exceptions.rnrn2. College students generally share housing and live in close proximity to lots of other students. As a result, many people are in and out of their living areas, including people they may not know well. Therefore, to protect against identity theft, students should not leave identifying documents where they can be easily found, and should password protect important information on their computers.rnrn3. Parents…college students won’t order or check credit reports. So, do it for them. Before the first semester starts, parents should have their students order free credit reports to be sent to their homes. Parents can then check the reports for accuracy and identify any potential problems. Major credit bureaus are required by law to give consumers one free credit report a year. If you discover a problem on a credit report, investigate further. Be aware that checking your credit report won’t prevent thieves from opening new accounts in your name, but it is a good start.rnrn4. Even with increased awareness and security, colleges, lenders, school systems, and other institutions lose a significant number of student Social Security numbers and other pieces of information to potential thieves each and every year. That’s why it’s important to take steps to protect yourself if your identification is lost to thieves.rnrn5. Opt out of all junk mail, as soon as possible. Identity thieves can steal credit card offers from your mailbox or garbage (if you fail to shred), fill in the applications with your name and their address, and charge thousands of dollars of goods and services to you. It happens every day.rnrn6. Have free fraud alerts placed on personal information. Fraud alerts, offered by the major credit bureaus at no cost, mean that credit agencies will contact you directly to get your approval whenever someone tries to open a new credit account in your name or change your address. Thus, even if a thief manages to obtain your information, you can potentially stop him or her from opening new a new account or making an address change on an existing one. You can request fraud alerts yourself, but you must renew them several times a year, and they can fail if the creditors don?t make the call (as they are supposed to). Paying a company a small monthly fee to take care of the fraud alerts for you may be a good option, especially if the company offers you an identity theft guarantee.rnrnIdentity thieves are persistent. They are constantly attempting to acquire the confidential information they need to assume your identity, but if you are vigilant and if you take some simple steps to protect yourself, you are far less likely to become one of their victims.

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