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Identity Theft

Identity theft literally steals who you are and it can seriously jeopardize your financial future. Imagine having thousands of dollars of unauthorized debt and a wrecked credit rating because of identity theft. The unfortunate reality of identity theft is that it is you, the victim, who is responsible for cleaning up the mess and re-establishing your good name and credit. The experience of thousands of identity theft victims is that this frustrating experience often requires months and even years.

As a student, you may even be more vulnerable to identity theft because of the availability of your personal data and the way many students handle this data. A recent national survey of college students found:

  • Almost half of all college students receive credit card applications on a daily or weekly basis. Many of these students throw out card applications without destroying them.
  • Nearly a third of students rarely, if ever, reconcile their credit card and checking account balances.
  • Almost 50 percent of students have had grades posted by Social Security number.
  • All of these factors make students potential identity theft victims. In addition, as a student, you may be surprised to learn how many of your daily activities expose you to this crime. For example:
    • Do you use your personal computer for online banking transactions?
    • Do you use your personal computer to buy merchandise or purchase tickets for travel, concerts, or other services?
    • Do you receive credit card offers in the mail? Do you discard these documents before you shred of them?
    • Do you store personal information in your computer?
    • Do you use a cell phone?
    • Do you use your Social Security number for identification?
    • Do you have a student loan?

You probably answered yes to at least one of these questions about daily transactions that you routinely perform. Each of these routine actions places you at risk of being a victim of identity theft because each of these transactions require you to share personal information such as your bank and credit card account numbers, your Social Security number, or your name, address, and phone number. This is the same personal information that identity thieves use to commit fraud.