Protecting yourself against ID theft probably isn’t even on a college student’s to-do list. Yet, young adults aged 18-24 are among the last to detect identity theft when compared to other age groups. It took them 132 days on average to spot it, and their average loss was roughly five times more than the amount lost by other age groups.
According to the same report from Javelin Strategy and Research, last year, 11.6 million American adults were ID theft victims, a 13% increase over 2010 figures. Losses totaled $37 billion,.
The Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona has issued some steps students can take to protect themselves while on campus.
Update your smart phone’s operating system and password-protect your home screen. Javelin Strategy found that 7% of smart phone owners were victims of ID fraud in 2011. Students should keep their operating systems updated to prevent hackers from accessing their devices remotely.
Important documents should be stored under lock and key. This includes the Social Security card, passport and bank and credit card statements. Shred credit card offers and any paper documents that have sensitive financial information rather than just tossing them out.
Never lend your credit or debit card to anyone.
Make sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus and spyware software.
Always check your credit or debit card statements closely for any suspicious activity. The sooner you identify any potential fraud, the less you’ll suffer in the long run.
Check your credit report at least once a year. You are entitled to one free report a year from each of the three reporting bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax.