There are many worries we can have when kids are off to college, but identity theft doesn’t occur to us something that we should be concerned about. After all, college kids generally don’t have credit, so why would they become targets?
The fact is, people in their twenties make up 20 percent of all identity theft victims, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Their empty credit history is just what identity thieves are looking for–a blank slate means easy credit approvals!
How Does Identity Theft Occur in College? Five Problem Areas and Solutions
- Shared spaces
Dorms can be crowded, shared spaces that rely on the trust of roommates. Even if new roomies can seem like friends, the risk of theft is always there. In addition, a single floor of any dorm can house hundred of students who can easily gain access to dorm rooms when they are vacant. Stolen items are bad enough, but ID information can be copied and put back without a student every knowing his or her privacy has been compromised.
Solution: Use an inexpensive safe or even get a safety deposit box at the bank for Social Security card, birth certificate and other documents you may need, but don’t need to keep around.
- Internet purchases
Everyday purchases online is common to most, but for college students the risk of Wi-Fi hacking on campus is increased as identity thieves tap into unsecure Wi-Fi signals to gain access to online credit card transactions. Identity thieves rely on the stats, which indicate that almost 30 percent of college students ignore their checking account and credit card balances.
Solution: Check credit card statements regularly for fraudulent charges.
- Too many credit card applications
Credit card companies know college students need money and immediately begin the direct mail campaigns that offer attractive introductory offers targeting college students. Often recipients will toss these applications unshredded into the trash. In fact 49 percent of today’s college students receive frequent applications for credit cards, and 30 percent of those college students throw the applications away in their original condition – that is, with all the personal information intact.
Solution: Keep a dorm shredder. The best shredders for dorms are compact, powerful and can easily shred credit card applications, stapled and paper clipped documents and even credit cards and DVDs. See Top Dorm Shredders For College Students.
- Taking care of campus documentation
Too often college and university campuses rely on Social Security numbers to identify students. This means that college paperwork, student loan documents and other information provided to and from the college can contain confidential information.
Solution: Shred all unnecessary documents. Even if you are not sure that the paperwork contains confidential information or not, using your dorm shredder to destroy it can take only seconds and leaves you with peace of mind.
- Keeping electronic screen info private
Shoulder surfing, the technique of peeking over a shoulder to acquire information off a laptop or tablet becomes even more useful to identity thieves in crowded college libraries and cafeterias. It only takes a minute for passwords, user names and even bank account information to be snapped with a phone and used later.
Solution: Keep tablets and laptops protected with privacy screens. Blackout privacy screens black out the side view image of the screen from either right or left while leaving the frontal view clear. This allows any student to work on electronic devices in public without worry. See the best privacy screens for college.