A College Student’s Guide to Identity Protection

Back-to-school season is upon us. College students are moving into dorm rooms and experiencing newfound freedom and responsibility. However, young adults should remain cautious when independently managing information because they are one of the highest risk targets for identity theft. While students seem prepared with binders and notebook galore, PeopleSmart has a few identity protection tips they can pack with them on move-in day.

1. Use Secure Wi-Fi only.

One of the perks of living in the dorms is the free Wi-Fi. However, students don’t always realize that this connection tends to be shared network, which means that checking your credit card balance can be risky. Practice good online habits by making sure you only use secure networks, create high quality passwords, and always sign out of public devices.

2. Be cautious of your surroundings.

Laptops in a lecture halls have become commonplace in this technological generation. With everything from class notes to wild pictures saved on your desktop, it is unwise to leave your computer logged in and unattended. While you may trust your roommates and close friends, chances are you are still surrounded by many strangers who can easily snoop through your personal belongings and acquire your confidential information.

3. Discard mail with care.

Ever notice that once you started college, you began receiving more snail mail? The majority of this correspondence is likely from banks begging you to sign up for a credit card. While it’s easy to decipher and discard spam, it is important to also shred them too. Why? Many of those forms are personalized and even pre-populated with personal information that can be found by thieves digging through your trash.

4. Carry limited forms of ID.

You should never need to show your social security card, passport, or birth certificate to get into college parties. These are extremely valuable and misplacing them might lead to identity theft. Find a safe location, preferably with a lock, to place important documents. College parties get wild and people tend to lose wallets. Make sure you don’t lose your identity with it!

5. Use privacy settings on social media.

College parties not your scene? Make friends on social media! But be cautious about how much information you provide on your various profiles. Identity thieves have been turning to sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare to follow people’s every move. Without proper privacy settings, information on friends and family, tagged photos and more can be easily retrieved by an identity thief. In fact, ‘checking in’ to places has led to an increase in robberies, as thieves are able to track and follow your current location at all times. So double check your privacy settings and make sure strangers can’t access confidential information.

Learn more about PeopleSmart and IdentitySmart to make sure your personal information is safe this semester.