Believe it or not, college students are among the easiest targets for identify thieves. This is why it is vital that all students learn early on how to keep their personal and financial information safe. The more you know beforehand, the less likely you’ll be to have a bad experience. Remember, all it takes is one identity theft to set you back and cause a major inconvenience in your life and school schedule.
College students are among the most frequently active users on the Internet, which is a haven for identity thieves. There are professional hackers and identity thieves that are just as smart, if not smarter than the Internet techies. All it takes is one online consumer slip up to find an opening just wide enough to do damage. So how can students protect themselves and ensure that their identity stays intact? Below are some of the best practices students will want to begin committing themselves to sooner rather than later.
Stick to Secure Sites: That “s” at the end of the “http” in the web addresses you’re dealing with is a sign that the website you’re on is a secure one. It also means that any personal, financial or other sensitive information you enter onto that webpage will also be kept confidential. Anytime you plan on making online purchases, want to sign up for something or are doing online banking, the first thing you should look for is the “https”. Without that “s”, your information is up for grabs. Such sites claiming to be secure but fail to have the “https” in its web address should be avoided at all costs.
Pay Attention to Your Email Inbox: Anytime your bank or online vendor sends you an email asking to provide sensitive information, know that it is more than likely a “phishing” attempt. By replying to such emails with your information, identity thieves can hack into your bank account and/or make purchases through online retailers using your info. Read your legit emails from your bank and other businesses you use to understand what information they will and will not ask you for. This will help you distinguish an authentic email message from a fake one.
Invest in a Shredder: Even though a majority of identity theft occurs online, this hasn’t stopped identity thieves from using old school methods, such as searching through a person’s trash or their mailbox. Make it a habit to shred documents that have your info, especially junk mail, credit card offers, letters, etc. Simply tearing the paperwork in half won’t do either–shredding is the only way to prevent an identity thief from trying to put the document back together.
Monitor Your Credit: In addition to checking your credit scores for free each year, it is also a good idea to sign up for a credit monitoring service. Should anyone attempt to steal your identity and your funds, the suspicious activity will trigger an alert. The credit monitoring service will notify you immediately and assist you with recovering from the loss.