How to Avoid the Scourge of Identity Theft

How to Avoid the Scourge of Identity Theft
  • Opening Intro -

    Identity theft only happens to people with jobs and never to impoverished college students, right?

    Think again.


If you have a personal identity — and who doesn’t possess a Social Security number, a driver’s license or a Facebook account — then you are at risk of identity theft. Here’s how to avoid losing your ID and the consequences of that theft.

Identity Theft Defined

Investopedia explains identify theft as, “the crime of obtaining the personal or financial information of another person for the sole purpose of assuming that person’s name or identity in order to make transactions or purchases.”

That information is usually obtained surreptitiously, but it also my be procured by innocent means. That is to say, innocent on the part of the individual whose identity is about to be compromised.

1. Personal Identification Numbers

You may regularly use an automatic teller machine (ATM) and think that you’re safe. Sure, you’re aware of your surroundings and you wouldn’t think about transacting money from a poorly lit or otherwise unsafe location.

What you may not be doing is cover your screen with one hand while you’re inputting your four-digit personal identification number or PIN. Indeed, someone who may seem out of sight could be watching with the aid of a high resolution camera, picking off your number when you least expect it.

Thieves can also compromise ATMs by inserting an overlay into the card feeder. If one is present, then your personal information can be harvested from that little strip on your card. To emphasize, here is the bottom line: if something seems odd at the cash machine, then don’t use it.

2. Social Security Numbers

These days, our Social Security Numbers are used to identify us well beyond its original intent. For example, schools use our numbers, government agencies demand SSNs and sometimes businesses request same.

A word to the wise: never give out your SSN to anyone who doesn’t need it. If a business asks for it, demand to know why. Certainly, you aren’t required to submit your SSN in most cases. Oh, by the way, keep your SS card in a safe file — never carry it on your person.

3. Personal Documents

Most of your personal documents should stay in your home with your family. In particular, bring to college only essential documents and keep these in a secure place.

A strong box is a good place to store those papers you need access to. Particularly, it should be fireproof and the key kept on your chain or in your wallet or purse. Furthermore, give the second key to your parents to hold.

4. Online Activity

If you regularly log online, you have access to billions of websites and pages. Those sites would love to have access to you, but you should only visit sites that are safe and won’t steal your information. To point out all transactions conducted online should be accomplished at secure sites only.

When using a public computer, never save your passwords when logging on. If you do, then the next person can log on as you and steal your identity.

5. Under Lock and Key

You and your roommate should agree to keep your dorm room locked at all times, even when you both are in the room. Other students should not be allowed to enter without your permissions.

If you leave your dorm unlocked even just to use the lavatory, someone might enter your room and take your important documents or a credit card. Likewise, never make it easy for anyone to get to your stuff — keep it under lock and key too.

Security Considerations

You should also stay alert to security announcements on campus. You may learn that a theft trend is emerging, one that targets students as yourself. A little extra precaution is in order here.

See Also9 Ways to Save Money in College


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Categories: Personal Advice