The Federal Trade Commission states that those aged 20 to 29 are the most common target of identity theft. However, 18 to 24 year olds are the slowest to detect fraud, and thus are victims for longer periods of time. Identity theft is a real threat, and college students are more susceptible than ever before. Students therefore need to take precautions to protect themselves from identity theft.
1. Change passwords regularly.
Many people never think to change their online passwords, whether it’s for a social media site or a bank account. It’s generally a good idea to have different passwords for different accounts as well, and to make sure they’re strong. A password that is hard to guess with letters and numbers in it is a strong password, whereas your mother’s maiden name is not.
2. Don’t let your computer fall into the wrong hands.
Many people store sensitive data on their desktop or personal computers. With the option available to save passwords or automatically log in, much of a person’s life can be accessed through their PC. College students especially need to password protect their laptops and be sure not to leave them unattended in public areas, like the library or common room.
3. Make sure you’re in a secure wireless network before accessing private sites.
This reduces the chance of someone hacking into your personal accounts. Students need to be careful about this when choosing wireless networks on campus. Contact your school’s IT desk if you’re unsure which networks are safe for you to connect to.
4. Install security software on your phone.
Not many people think to protect their mobile devices from viruses, but security software is a good idea for those who frequently access the Internet on their smartphones. Like your laptop, if you have a smartphone, a lot of personal and sensitive information can be found on there. Be sure to set up a passcode to make it harder to get into.
Don’t let yourself become a victim. Take precautionary measures to protect yourself from identity theft!