Identity Theft

According to the Federal Trade Commission and Money Talks News, almost 30 percent of identity theft victims are between the ages of 18 and 29. Living in dorms or student housing often fosters a false sense of security among room, dorm, and house mates.

 

“Friendly theft” is a term to describe theft which is perpetrated by a friend or loved one. Avoid leaving documents up that contain personal information on a desktop/laptop or smartphone if you leave them unattended in an area you are studying or working in. These are two weak spots where students are easily targeted for identity theft.

 

As a student, you will begin to receive pre-approved credit card and insurance offers in the mail. It is important to cross-shred these and any other “junk mail” which contain your personal information. Being proactive can prevent identity theft but repairing the damage from fraud can take years.

 

Here are our top tips:

  • Shred

    Never throw away credit card offers; always cross-shred them.

  • Lock-up

    Lock up all sensitive documents, especially student loan records.

  • Checkbook

    Never leave your blank checkbook sitting out.

  • Statements

    Check your bank and credit card statements carefully. Thieves will make small but frequent purchases that are easy to miss if you’re not reviewing your transaction history regularly.

  • More

    More information is available from The Department of Justice.

If you suspect you have been a victim of identity theft:

  • File a report on the theft with your local police department.
  • Notify all three credit bureaus and place fraud alerts on your credit report.
    Equifax, Experian, Transunion
  • Contact your financial institution and close all compromised accounts immediately.
  • Keep emergency contact numbers handy and report the theft to all credit card, merchant, bank, and all other credit issuers with whom you have accounts.
  • Report stolen checks to check verification agencies.
  • File a complaint online with the Federal Trade Commission
  • Follow through on all fronts (merchant, bank, credit bureaus, law enforcement). If you get verbal agreements for resolution, request a statement in writing.

Most importantly, don’t assume someone will “take care of this” for you. It is your responsibility.