College provides a whole new world to students along with independence and a perspective into the “real world”. However, in order to do this, many college students find themselves sharing personal space with many people that they don’t know. Here are some helpful hints for college teens to ward off identity thieves.
College students are constantly out and about; trips, vacations, and time away from school leave personal mail to ferment in student mailboxes. Make sure your teen doesn’t leave mail lying around, and have him or her cancel any mail during vacations or holidays.
It is a myth that identity theft occurs over the internet with the disclosure of online account numbers and passwords. A large portion of identity thieves make an honest living by rolling up their sleeves and stealing identification the old-fashioned way. Make sure your teen carefully guards his or her computer, wallet, or purse. One moment of carelessness can lead to devastating consequences. Here's one strategy when several students live together: let one laptop take one for the team for general browsing, but never for on-line transactions or access to secure accounts. Checking the hours of the cafe is one thing; but for on-line banking, use your own secure machine.
Many college students are not suspicious about requests for personal information, especially when it seems to come from a legitimate source, such as a landlord or dormitory. Advise your teen to always question the need to reveal personal information. Additionally, make sure your teen NEVER USES SCHOOL COMPUTERS TO CONDUCT BUSINESS, such as online banking or logging in. Taking identification information from public computer terminals is easier for identity thieves than taking candy (and social security number) from a baby.
One of the best ways to dispose of personal documents such as mail and bills is to use a shredder. They’re cheap, and generally eliminate the possibility of a thief recovering documents from the trash.
Using Facebook is an activity that many college students would not feel normal without. However, thieves can use the public information to gain access to a student’s identity. A common misconception is that a Facebook profile is visible only to friends; a remarkable amount of information can be recovered with a simple google search for a profile. Here are a few things to leave off your profile:
Date of birth- Everyone likes getting notifications on their birthday, but leave the year out, or change the date to another day of the month. One of the most common ways to validate credit information over the phone is through date of birth. Don’t let yours land on the internet.
Travel Plans- Posting Vacation times or specific plans alerts both identity and regular thieves as to when your college student is away, and/or their location. Don’t extend the thieves a written invitation to burglarize a dorm or make a trip to the bank. They might be closer than your teen suspects.
DON’T POST A PERSONAL PHONE NUMBER OR ADDRESS ON A FACEBOOK PAGE, except possibly your phone, for Friends ONLY.
And NEVER, ever, ever post your mother’s maiden name on your page (the most asked security question online); you are handing your online transactions over to identity thieves on a silver platter.
In light of the recent theft of celebrity photos from on-line accounts, assume that nothing kept on your mobile device is truly private. But to secure your personal information further, use 2-step verification. This is a feature where you can have the host (Google, LinkedIn, etc.) text another device (such as your smart phone) a one time code to access your account. Use this at least for whenever a new device tries to access your account, such as when you're traveling or accessing from another network. This is similar to the need for two keys to access your safe deposit box at the bank: Two steps may take time, but isn't your private information worth protecting?
Learn more about personal safety and insurance tips here.