More tips for college students on preventing and recovering from identity theft
(Note: If you haven't read the first two pages of this article on college students and identity theft, click here before you read this page.)
More detailed tips to help college students prevent identity theft
Limit personal sharing about your home and family.
Often in criminal investigations involving identity theft, college roommates or former apartment roommates are involved. Who knows where you may be years from now?
Details about your parent's job or your sibling's experiences should be kept confidential. For example, don't brag about the annual family retreat every summer. The criminal mind is opportunistic by nature.
Don't leave a door open for later identity theft because of your willingness to confide.
Be careful on job applications and in job interviews
One of the biggest scams out there right now is the use of fraudulent employment applications and interviews to obtain personal information. So much personal information is handed over to strangers with every application! Be very careful about what information you give out.
If you share a phone number with a roommate or apartment mates, use a cell phone for communicating with prospective employers. Don't allow anyone who answers the phone to represent him- or herself as you over the phone. Follow up with the companies you've applied to in order to make sure you haven't missed any correspondence.
Be aware of the six degrees of identity theft.
You may be able to trust your roommate or study group classmate. But what about their friends?
If your roommate hosts a group of people in your dorm room or apartment, or has a fight with his or her best friend, will a third or fourth party suddenly have access to your information?
Sometimes, a person may innocently show off and share too much knowledge of a roommate's personal life. This can backfire if someone else is able to connect this information with records, discarded bank statements, credit card slips, and the like.
Conduct personal business privately.
Don't access your bank account online or on the phone in front of your roommate or anyone else, and don't jot down passwords or other private information where others can find them.
Lock up or send home all your student loan and financial aid correspondence and other similar paperwork; never leave it for long periods of time in a dorm room or apartment. Anything with a name, address, Social Security number, and phone number can be used to set up credit accounts and access services online.
The point to keep in mind and follow is this. Small bits of personal information can be accessed, combined, and used by an identity thief to create an online or credit profile that has your name on it. Be smart and make identity thieves work harder - better yet, make them look for someone else to steal from!
How schools try to prevent identity theft among college students
At this point, it may seem like you have to go through an awful lot of trouble to protect yourself. We won't lie. You do.
But you'll be happy to know that most colleges around the country are also trying to keep their students from becoming identity theft victims.
The US Department of Education is aware that identity theft is a serious problem for college students, and it is trying to help. The department has created a website that shows college students how to protect themselves and what to do if they become identity theft victims.
This website includes a lot of helpful information that is specifically geared to college students. It will help you with all identity theft problems, ranging from dorm room burglaries to student loan fraud.
You can visit that website here:
The department also makes it easy for you to report information about any stolen Department of Education funds -- like financial aid and student loans -- by offering a toll free phone number. If you are a college student whose educational funds have been stolen, you can call 1-800-MISUSED for help.
How college student identity theft victims can reclaim their identities
If you've already been victimized by the growing problem of identity theft, hope is not lost. You will have to devote a lot of time and effort to reclaiming your identity, but your task is not an impossible one.
An excellent place for you to start getting your life back on track is the Department of Education website that we cited in the last section. The link for identity theft victims is:
You can also find a great deal of information at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse website here:
And of course, be sure you check out our ScamBusters.org Identity Theft Information Center.
The most important thing that any college student can do after being victimized by identity thieves is to refuse to give up.
We realize that you're very busy and that the last thing you want to do is to devote a lot of hours clearing your good name -- especially when you've barely made a name for yourself yet.
However, this time is nothing compared with the years of suffering that some college student identity theft victims go through when they fail to put out the effort needed to clear their name as soon as the problem surfaces.
Take the time to protect yourself, first, so you don't become a victim.
If it happens that you do get robbed, act immediately and follow the advice on the websites listed above, before things get out of hand. And if things do get bad, defend yourself before they get any worse.
As long as you follow these protective and increasingly necessary measures, you'll be able to graduate with plenty of terrific memories that don't involve your being a college student identity theft victim.