As the saying goes, you can never be too careful. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out important information about you by putting "two and two" together with information posted online. But, that's not the only thing you need to be mindful of; there are other ways of having your identity stolen at school.
As cynical as this sounds, you really cannot trust your peers. "Friendly fraud" represents about 14% of all identity theft crimes. Be mindful of any sensitive information you leave on your desk in your dorm room; it's tempting to someone who may be desperate.
The Seven Steps To Keeping Your Identity Safe
- Have sensitive mail sent to your parents (unless you don't trust them as well) or a PO Box. Student mailboxes in dorms may not be secure.
- File important documents in a locked safe. Generally, that means back at the homestead; chances are you won't need the most important documents at school.
- Shred credit card offers and any document you want to throw away that contains sensitive information. There are folks out there that have made a career out of dumpster diving.
- Never, let me say that again, never lend your credit or debit card to anyone. Not only do you not know what else they'll charge on it besides what they "borrowed" it for, but they won't be as careful as you would when you hand it over to the sales clerk to input the charge.
- Make sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus and spyware software.
- Check your credit card statements closely; there may be charges that're not yours. Report them immediately to the credit card company.
- Check your credit report once a year; you're entitled to a free credit report from each of the three bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
Be Careful Of What You Say
Be mindful of those around you in public places, such as restaurants and even in classroom buildings. You don't know who's overhearing your conversation and can piece together information about you.
Do you know of someone who has had their identity stolen at school?