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identity theft protection

Other Safety

5 Super Easy Ways to Boost Your Online Security

November 22, 2017

It seems we hear a new “sorry, we’ve been hacked” story every day. Ranging from small companies to some of the biggest names known worldwide, everyone from Target to Uber to Chipotle has been hacked leaving your data compromised. And it doesn’t stop there.

“Last September, Yahoo announced that data associated with at least 500 million accounts had been stolen. Three months later, it disclosed a second breach affecting more than one billion accounts,” according to Seth Fiegerman with CNN Tech.
As a college student, it may feel almost impossible to protect yourself from being a hacking victim—you don’t have money to put special protection on your data or personal information—but the key word is “almost.”

There are a number of steps you can take to protect your data and personal information from being stolen or accessed, all of which are easy, and better yet, free.

  1. Use a Password Manager

You know the three basic rules of passwords: they should be:
• Unique to each account.
• Complex, using letters, numbers and symbols whenever possible.
• Unidentifiable to you, like the name of your pet or your birthday—all information a hacker can easily find online.

If you’re following all the rules, the first thought is: I’ll never remember all that; which is why most people don’t follow them. Instead of leaving yourself vulnerable to hacking, use a password manager.“Using a master password, these programs will catalog and secure the login info for every account you own, and most of them come with a browser plugin that allows you plug in any login on the fly while you browse,” according to How to Protect Your Digital Identity and Lock Your Sensitive Data. The same guide suggests checking out the following password managers, all of which are free to use:

Password Box
• LastPass


     2) Use the Latest Version of Your Browser
Keeping both your OS and your browser up to date is critical for online security: “In both scenarios, you’re putting your personal online security at risk anytime you browse the internet. Without current web browser support and critical security updates from Microsoft, your PC may become vulnerable to any number of harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal or damage your identity, personal finances, and information,” explain blog staff at WebRoot.

It sounds simple, but many people see the reminder or request to update and click on the “not now” button. Don’t put off these updates and instead schedule the update to happen later instead of just closing that pop-up—or better yet, do it right then and there and take a quick 15-minute study break.

You can schedule your updates to happen automatically as well. Use this as an easy way to plan ahead and schedule updates to happen at times that you wouldn’t be on your computer, like when you’re sleeping.

3) Install a VPN

VPN stands for virtual private network. The beauty of a VPN is that it completely hides the data connection to your ISP address from potential hackers: Lee Matthews, software and tech writer for Forbes, explains in easy-to-understand terms:
“When you connect to a VPN, all the data that gets sent from your device to the private network at the other end (and back) is ‘encapsulated. Think putting a letter into an envelope to keep its contents from being read during transport. The envelope could still be opened, though. That’s why organizations like the CIA put tamper-proof tape over the flap. With a VPN connection, encryption is the tamper-proof tape. The result is a sort of network-within-a-network, but because of encapsulation and encryption your connection to a VPN remains private even though the data you’re transmitting is moving over the very public Internet.”


You can get a VPN for any browser for free; all you have to do is make sure it’s connected. Some websites may recognize it and not serve you content (many T.V. networks do this when you’re trying to watch shows online), but you can simply disconnect for that one site and reconnect when you’re done.

4) Install An Ad Blocker
Pop-up ads are not only annoying, but they also pose a security threat. “Ads are known to spread malware. For that reason alone, you should block all of them. I say this as someone whose rent is, in part, paid by ad revenue,” says William Turton, staff writer with Gizmodo.

There are a wide variety of AdBlockers you can use, depending on your browser. Check out Tom’s Guide’s extensive round-up of option for Chrome, Firefox, Safari,  and IE.

5) Set Up Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication is a security feature that requires you to take one extra step when logging into an account. In some cases, the extra step will be a preset security question while others use an additional PIN code or a verification code sent to you via text.

This extra step provides an extra layer of security so if someone guesses your password, they won’t be able to get through the second part of the login process. “For hackers, the coup de grace is setting up instant alerts when your account is accessed from an unfamiliar device or location. Usually, this is you because you’re logging into your email account from an internet café in London, or you’re checking your bank balance on a trusted friend’s phone,” says Kim Komando, tech expert for USA Today.
Get Secure Now

It can be a daunting task to consider setting up these different security measures, but it will be well worth it when your online privacy has been protected, especially in light of the many security breaches we now hear about on a daily basis. You can protect yourself easily, and for little to no money, so take an hour between classes to get secure and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with it.

BIO: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a full-time freelance writer and self-employed content marketing consultant. She’s been featured in Forbes and Business Insider and has written for Reader’s Digest, Lifehack and more.

Health Other

Types of Insurance New Grads Should Consider

May 20, 2016
Insurance Guide for New Grads

Graduation. You made it! Congratulations! Undergrad is behind you, and you’re about to embark on the next phase of your life. And while that is super exciting, it can be nerve-wracking and even a little bit risky. Some of those risks, however, can be mitigated with the right types of insurance. As you start off on your own as a young adult, you may start building a life you’ll want to protect, and insurance can help you do just that. Whether it’s a job, grad school, traveling or the unknown that’s next for you, insurance can be an important part of building your finances.

1. Health Insurance

You’re young, you’re healthy… do you really need health insurance? Soon you’ll be required to have it under new healthcare legislation, and in the meantime it is valuable coverage to have. Young adults have the highest rate of injury-related emergency department visits of all age groups (source), so it is wise to consider a plan in case of an accident or illness. Health insurance comes in many forms, so what is best for you? It all depends on your situation. Be sure to speak with an agent to review your options before purchasing insurance.

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Other Safety

8 Tips to Protect College Students from ID Theft

July 31, 2014

With young adults making up the largest percentage of the population affected by Identity Theft, it’s safe to say this is an issue college students should be concerned about. Though spending time online is a large part of college life for both studying and socializing and may feel safe, some habits can leave you vulnerable to identity theft.

While you’re probably never going to give up your social accounts, do exercise caution when posting sensitive information, like your location or birthdate, and when joining the wi-fi networks at your school or the local coffee shop. This article by KGW offers several helpful tips for students that can help protect you from ID theft at school, at home and wherever else you may go:

Here’s a summary of the 8 tips offered by iovation:

  • The Internet is forever; think about future employers, including those coveted summer internships.
  • Don’t add your address to your Facebook profile.
  • Don’t broadcast your location; checking-in is fine, just do it sparingly.
  • Don’t “friend” people you don’t know.
  • Guard your Social Security number. Always. It’s like a winning lottery ticket for a scammer, fraudster or identity thief.
  • Don’t use the same password everywhere. Consider using an “all-in-one” password manager.
  • Beware of emails phishing for personal information. Never give credit card info, usernames, passwords or other personal info.
  • Be Wi-Fi savvy and safe. Free Wi-Fi comes at the cost of security. Unsecured networks are gold mines for identity thieves.

These tips can help you and your money stay secure, but even being diligent may not be able to help you avoid identity theft. If you are concerned, consider an Identity Theft Protection Plan. These types of plans can help you resolve instances of identity theft more quickly with enhanced monitoring and insurance for lost funds.

Other Student Life

How to Lock Down Your Social Profiles

January 6, 2014
How to Lock Down Your Social Profile for College Students

Over the past decade, online privacy, once an expected right, has been dwindling faster than you can shout out, “Tag me in that!” With friends posting less-than-professional photos on Instagram and Twitter updates sent when you’re not in the best mindset, the old adage of “what happens in college, stays in college” no longer applies. To keep your put your most polished foot forward, adhere to the following social media tips.


For the king of social media (and likely the first profile an employer will check), you’ll need to lock down a few settings to stay secure. First, head to the main Privacy Settings and Tools page to limit who can see your posts, contact you, or look you up.

1. Who can see my stuff?

The first setting concerns who can see your future posts. The options are Public, Friends, Only Me, or Custom, where you can specific friends or groups. If you want to stay private, limit this to Friends, but if you have a lot of Facebook “friends” you don’t even know, you may want to create a custom list of friends you trust and want to share with.

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Other Safety

Back to College: What You Need to Know About ID Theft

August 22, 2013

Most colleges are back in session this week, so happy move-in to all our readers! There have been so many articles on back to school popping up around the Internet this past week (you can find some on our Pinterest page), and I keep seeing articles with tips to protect yourself from ID theft this semester, and for a good reason. Those aged 16-24 experience attempted or successful identity theft rates higher than all other age groups (source). Don’t wait until it’s too late to avoid identity theft. Check out these tips from Erie Insurance on how you can take a few simple measures to better protect yourself this semester:

1. Pack a shredder and lockbox – Nope, not overreacting. Your bank and credit card statements, as well as bills, can contain sensitive personal information that could help thieves. As for the lockbox, that’s a great place to store your laptop, tablets, and identifying documents (like your Social Security card, passport, etc.) in a safe place.

2. Keep your Social Security number protected – Never give out your Social Security number without verifying who is requesting it and what they need it for, and never carry your card on your person. If you can, try to leave documents like your Social Security card and passport at home instead of bringing them with you to school.

3. Make sure your student ID number isn’t your Social Security number – If it is, request to have it changed.

4. Be wary of school computer networks – Peer-to-peer file-sharing programs and unsecured WiFi networks can leave your computer vulnerable to hackers. Makes sure you use up-to-date computer security software and install updates often.

5. Be careful what you share on social media – Oversharing on personal location, including personal details about you (birthday, name of your high school, a pet’s name, all common account security questions) and your location. You may love and trust your roommate, but giving away your login information for different accounts is ill-advised.

6. Avoid credit card sign-up booths on campus and use that trusty shredder from #1 to shred any offers mailed to you – I know, those booths are everywhere the first week of school. Filling out all the info to get a credit card in the middle of the campus center? Not the most secure method, so skip it. Anyone could be looking over your shoulder. If you want to open a credit card, do your research and open one from a reputable company. If you find a good one, you can use your credit card instead of your debit card for extra layers of fraud protection.

7. Add a password to your smartphone – According to Erie Insurance, “Javelin’s report indicates smartphone owners experience identity theft 1/3 more than the general public.” Think of all the personal information stored in your phone and its apps. Is it password protected? By putting a password on your phone, you can help block thieves from all the information there.

8. Be aware of your surroundings – For your safety in general, take note of what is going on around you. This is true of protecting your identity as well. Being distracted can create opportunities for thieves to steal from you, whether it’s your debit card or  “shoulder surfing” when you’re checking your bank account at the library. “Shoulder surfing” is when someone snaps a photo of your account over your shoulder when you’re not paying attention.

9. Check your credit score bank and credit card statements regularly – Checking your accounts monthly and your credit throughout the year will help you keep track of your spending and catch any fraudulent activity. Call your bank or credit card provider immediately if you see something suspicious.

10. Consider purchasing identity theft protection coverage – This coverage can help alert you if your identity is compromised, as well as help you resolve any issues that may arise from ID theft.


4 Steps You Can Take to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Identity Theft

May 28, 2013

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.

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4 Types of Identity Theft College Students Should Know About

April 3, 2013

Identity theft is a quickly growing threat in the U.S., especially with the advancement in use of the Internet and social networking sites. Identity theft occurs when an impostor steals personal information from you and uses it for their benefit. It can take place in many different ways, and it’s important to know how to prevent identity theft from happening to you. Here are several of the most common ways that your identity can be stolen, provided by , and how to prevent them.

Financial ID Theft

This can occur when your credit cards, debit cards, or checks are stolen. If this happens, contact the bank immediately and close your account. When opening a new one, put passwords on the account. Passwords should be something only you can remember. They should be at least 8 characters long and contain both capital and lowercase letters and at least one non-alphabetical character.

In order to prevent financial ID theft, keep all cards and IDs together in a place where they are not easily visible. When at school, never leave a wallet unattended.

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Announcing our New Identity Theft Product!

February 13, 2013
College Identity Theft

The new site only just launched, and it doesn’t stop there! This week we are thrilled to announce the launch of our new Identity Theft Protection product. Help protect yourself with IdentitySecure™, a preferred partner of GradGuard™!

According to James Van Dyke, president of Javelin Strategy and Research  “People ages 18 to 24 are at the greatest risk [of identity theft] because it takes them longer to figure out that they have been defrauded.” Identity Theft protection helps young adults monitor their information so that instances of identity theft can be caught and prevented early.

Head on over to the new to check out our new Identity Theft product!


5 Things Students Should Know About the Risk of Fraud

November 27, 2012
id theft

223/365 - my bank sucks
The 2012 Javelin fraud survey found that someone becomes a victim of fraud every 2.7 seconds! So if you think fraud is irrelevant to you, think again. Anyone can be at risk for online security breaches, so it’s important to get the facts. Below are five things you should know:

1. Those notified are more likely to experience fraud
The same Javelin survey reported that consumers who were notified that their information had been breached were 9.5 times more likely to experience fraud than those who didn’t receive a notification. In fact, 19% of those who received data breach notifications were fraud victims, compared to just 2% of those who did not get notification. So keep this in mind if you ever receive an email notifying you that one of your accounts was hacked!

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Protect Your Identity This Holiday Season

November 21, 2012

Living on Credit Cards

Along with holiday cheer, this is a season of a lot of shopping. Gift-giving lends itself to an increase in spending, as do holiday travel and events. With the rise of identity theft, however, shopping this season can be less than joyous if someone gets ahold of your information. The Hanover Insurance Group has help and tips for avoiding identity theft this season, thanks to their release “ID Theft Is On The Rise–Protect Your Identity This Holiday Season.
“As shoppers get excited about holiday gifts and bargains, it’s easy to forget that there are people out there waiting to take advantage of what should be a joyful season,” said Mark Desrochers, president, personal lines insurance at The Hanover. “Because of the emotional and financial impact identity theft can have on an individual and their family, we thought it was important to offer some tips to help avoid identity theft.”

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