College students are at high risk for identity theft. That’s because they usually have clean credit, pay no attention to their credit, and are frequently careless with their mail, social security number, etc.
Here are some steps to help reduce the risk that you’ll be the victim of identity theft:
- Never put sensitive mail in an unlocked outgoing mailbox.
- Don’t leave sensitive mail lying around where your roommate and his friends can access it.
- Use a password to lock your computer so when you’re out of the room your roommate does not have access to the information on your computer.
- Do the same with your phone.
- Memorize your Social Security number and leave the card at home.
- Make a list of any credit cards you carry in your wallet. Also write down the customer service number and card number of each one. Leave that with your parents or in a secure, locked place. If you lose your wallets you’ll be able to quickly notify the credit card companies.
- Use a VPN – Virtual Private Network – when you’re on wifi. This encrypts your information so hackers cannot see what you are doing online and cannot capture your user names, passwords, etc. There are paid VPN services and some free VPN services too, including Tunnelbear.com.
- Check your credit report – or have a parent do it – 3 times a year. You can do it free once a year with each of the three credit unions, so put it on your calendar: January 1st, check credit, TransUnion. May 1st, check credit, Experian. September 1st, check credit, Equifax.
- Freeze your credit. This prevents criminals from opening credit cards and other loans with your Social Security number. You must freeze your credit with each of the 3 credit reporting bureaus but it’s an easy process. Click on each below to find out how.
Learn more ways to Bulletproof your student in the book “Bulletproof: Safety, Security, and Self-Defense for the College-Bound woman,” available by clicking here.