As your student enters a brand new year of school, their minds are riddled by issues. It may be pending homework due dates or mentally squeezing study time into their daily rituals for the next foreseeable months ahead. But identity theft? Probably not on their short list of worries.
Unbeknownst to them, students in particular constitute as a prime target. It typically goes alongside a perceived sense of invincibility. Cases of young adults in their late teens to early 20s averaged about 1/4 of complaints filed this past year.
These criminals aren’t novices, either. In fact, it’s widely considered among the most threatening of organized crimes that affect an approximated 15 million people, where identity hijackers can often wipe their technological trail clean without even the most miniscule trace of their presence.
Identity Theft Prevention Tips
- Secure your phone with a PIN. A 2012 survey by Javelin Strategy & Research reported that 62 percent of those with a smartphone opt to leave it unprotected without a PIN. That 38 percent may check their phone so often that forcing themselves to type in a four-digit number sequence would seem tiresome. However, that also means their phone is easy prey for thieves. Without a protection, they could instantly tap into multiple log-ins, including possibly bank information. A phone lock is well worth the perceived hassle.
- Speaking of passwords, change your them every month or two, and don’t hesitate to weave in plenty of capital letters, punctuation and numbers! This may seem daunting, but services like Norton’s Identity Safe Password Generator makes that task a whole lot easier by not only concocting wildly obscure passwords, but also saving them for you.
- Clear out your web browser’s cookies and history regularly, or set up an automatic removal upon closing the window. Unsure how to set that up? Here are how-to’s for Chrome and Firefox users.
- Keep an eye on your bank statements, including both debit and credit activity. Often hackers will subtract small amounts so they go unnoticed because large or atypical amounts are almost always flagged by banks. If you continually notice a successive order of dollar purchases, dispute one or more and notify your bank immediately.Secure your e-mail accounts with mobile alerts. Providers like Gmail will prompt you to add your phone number upon first logging in, and once you insert it, you’ll receive a text message with a code to link both accounts. This creates an additional layer of security just in case someone attempts to crack your password unknowingly. You’ll promptly be notified via text message if this occurs.
We want your student to experience a fun, safe year. If they follow these tips and persistently guard their finances with a wary eye, they’ll have a much better chance of keeping identity theft rogues at bay.
Westface College Planning helps navigate the financial aid process from start to finish. To learn how we can minimize college cost, call us at 650-587-1559 or sign up for one of our Tackling the Runaway Costs of College Workshops or Webinars.
Photo Credit: Stavos