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Help your students protect themselves against identity theft

With students pouring back into colleges and universities this fall, a good service schools could offer students is a tip sheet on how to avoid becoming an ID theft victim. Besides standard tips, such as shredding credit card statements, reconciling bank or credit card statements and protecting their Social Security numbers, there are other ways students can protect themselves.

For example, most are voracious users of social networking sites like Facebook. Share too much information on these sites, and it could be an easy matter for thieves to garner enough information to make a student’s life miserable.

According to the US Department of Education’s Web site, students are more vulnerable to identity theft ‘because of the availability of personal data and the way many students handle this data.”

IdentityTruth, a Waltham, Mass. provider of services to help consumers safeguard their identity, recently released a list of tips that schools could provide students when they show up for class.

Here are some tips from IdentityTruth to aid in ID theft prevention:

  • Savvy social networking: With millions of people using social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, there are countless opportunities for identity thieves. Students should set restrictions on their profiles so that only friends can view their information, and should delete history/cookies if accessing those sites through public computers.

  • Beware phishing text Messages: Neither your bank nor your credit card company will ever send you a text requesting login or account information, so if you get a message asking you to verify your login, delete it. To be safe, call your cell phone provider and opt-out of this marketing feature.

  • Smarter cell phone: Never store identifying names, companies, or login information on your cell phone. If you loose your cell phone, all this information can be easily extracted off your SIM Card and used to access your personal information. If you lose your cell phone, contact your provider immediately to report the loss.

  • Protect your laptop: In recent years, one out of four data breaches affecting colleges and universities stemmed from the theft of laptops at the registrar’s office. To make your laptop safer, first. always make sure that your laptop is password protected. Second, purchase a computer security cable, which prevents your laptop from being removed from a stationary object. Last, ask your campus police department if they have a laptop engraving program. Identity thieves may be less likely to steal laptops that are personally engraved.

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