When it comes to identity theft, young adults are a primary target. Students are four times more likely to be targets of fraud that can go undetected for years compared to other consumers. In fact, 15% of students deal with severe or moderate impacts from fraud, according to a report from Tulane University.
Criminals can use students’ identities to commit fraud, like taking out loans and opening credit cards, while the victim has no clue what is happening.
Students can be at risk if they use public Wi-Fi networks or fall victim to phishing emails. If this sounds all too familiar, then there are some practical ways to help keep that from happening. Here is how college students can get help get protected from identity theft.
What Should College Students Do to Help Avoid Identity Theft?
In today’s digital age, there are all sorts of ways scammers can get ahold of your personal information. But, when you take extra precautions, you can establish that safety net where you no longer appear an easy target for identity theft.
You can do that by:
Not oversharing information on social media.
Don’t overshare personal details that might be related to the accounts and passwords you are using. Ideally, you should make more complex passwords that don’t contain any of your personal information.
Keep your security information on a hard drive instead of a device.
When you keep sensitive documents stored away, you can feel at ease. So, if your phone or laptop gets stolen, you won’t have to worry about the thief using your identity.
Frequently changing passwords.
You might feel tempted to use the same password repeatedly. But this is not a good idea. Use different ones to better safeguard your personal information.
Recognizing phishing scams.
Many criminals use fake loan listings and fake scholarships to get college students to share their private information. Make sure you only share that information with a reputable institution.
Be careful when using public Wi-Fi.
Public networks are not secure. You can stay safe if you don’t access your financial or personal information on a public network. In fact, the FTC recommends paying attention to the web browser alerts you are getting.
If you are using a public Wi-Fi, you should enable a VPN that keeps your information encrypted.
Where Can College Students Report Identity Theft?
Wondering who you should contact in case your identity has been stolen? Here are a couple of options that can help.
FTC (Federal Trade Commission)
As a college student, you can report a loan identity theft to the FTC. You are asked a couple of questions, after which you can get the necessary recovery plan.
CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)
If there is a complaint you want to file about student loans regarding financial companies, the CFPB can help.
ICCC (Internal Crime Complaint Center)
A student who has been a victim of internet crime can file a complaint at the ICCC.
How To Recover From Identity Theft as a College Student
If someone has taken your identity without your consent, then it’s vital to take a steps so that you can recover from that damage. Start by taking inventory of the damage. Assess your current accounts and see if there are any unauthorized charges. Next, freeze your credit reports and place them on fraud alerts.
You should also sign up for identity theft protection. This service can help protect your personal information and credit, making you less likely to fall victim to identity theft.