College Students Are High Risk for Identity Theft

June 19, 2008

2,317,830 – That’s the number of identities involved in security breaches from colleges and universities in the US in the first five months of 2008. This number is from where they track this kind of stuff.  There are actually more but there are breaches that are reported as ‘Unknown’ for the amount of information stolen. Another good month for identity thieves is happening now with 106,200 identities compromised in just the first half of June.

Now that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone who’s personal information was stolen will actually become a victim, but it sure does put a lot of young adults at risk through no fault of their own.

One of the problems with people in the 18-24 year old range is that they don’t give a lot of thought about checking their credit reports. We all tend to think we’re bullet-proof at that age. This gives identity thieves plenty of time to do their dirty deeds and make a clean getaway. Get a free credit report at not ‘free credit report dot com’.

Another reason college students are such a high risk for identity theft is because they move so often. Their mail doesn’t always get forwarded properly and plenty of pre-approved credit offers land in the wrong hands. Bank statements, Student Loan info and FAFSA paperwork have lots of personal info in them. You don’t want to have that kind of mail going to just anyone.

Then there are vendors for credit card companies that set up on campuses and offer students credit cards. The applications require social security number, date of birth, name address – just the kind of info a thief would want. It’s possible that some vendors aren’t legit or the person taking the apps is also making copies.

Yes, I am that paranoid. You have to be careful about giving out your info. Learn to protect it now. Good credit is vitally important to you all through your adult life.

Prevent Identity Theft After Disasters

June 18, 2008

A natural disaster like floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wild fires, etc. are difficult enough when your home is destroyed or damaged. You try to salvage as many of your possessions from the rubble as you can. One of your possessions you need to remember to salvage is your identity. You’re probably not even thinking about that while worrying where you’re going to be sleeping tonight.

Your home is a storage place for pieces of your identity like:

  • Checkbook
  • Extra Credit Cards
  • Passports
  • Banking statements
  • Medical information

You’re already experiencing emotional trauma from the loss and possibly physical trauma from injuries. The last thing you need to discover is that one top of everything else, someone stole your identity.

Here are some quick tips on things you can do to prevent identity theft after a disaster:

  • Lost Checkbook – call your bank and put a ‘stop payment’ on missing checks. Or even change your bank account number.
  • Missing Credit Cards – call the 800 number for your credit card company to let them know your card is lost. Normally, you’d find it on the back of your card, but you can also find it online at their website. Directory assistance can get it for you, too.
  • Lost Passport – contact the United States Department of State at 1-800-877-8339.
  • Lost Social Security Card – call the Social Security Administration at 1-877-876-2455 and request a copy of your Social Security Statement.
  • Beware of Scammers – you may be approached by people offering ‘Diaster Relief’ or home repair. Don’t give anyone your social security number, credit card number or PIN without thoroughly checking them out. If they pressure you with a time deadline, they’re probably scammers trying to take advantage of your vulnerability.
  • Opt-out of pre-approved credit offers – if you haven’t done this yet, now is a good time to do it. It’s a simple free telephone call that takes only minutes – 1-888-567-8688 (888-5-OPT-OUT.)
  • Fraud Alertplace a fraud alert now. It’s free and will give you protection from thieves opening new lines of credit in your name. It won’t interfere with you trying to get credit yourself to rebuild and recover.
  • Get Credit Reports – after things have settled down, order your free credit reports from Check for any incorrect information.

Keeping your identity safe after a natural disaster will make the recovery a bit easier.