As college students head back to class, consumer protection officials are urging them to safeguard their identity. With their high reliance on technology and frequent moves, Sandy Chalmers with the state Division of Trade and Consumer Protection says college students can often make perfect targets for identity thieves. Stolen laptops, smart phones, or tablet devices can contain sensitive personal information. Frequent mailings for pre-approved credit cards can also give thieves all of the information they need to take out a credit card in the name of a victim.
Chalmers says college-aged consumers are less likely to keep track of their credit report or closely examine bank statements. As a result, she says they often go twice as long as older victims before realizing they have been the victim of identity theft.
Chalmers says it’s important to keep the personal information protected by locking it up in a desk drawer or a small safe. Having strong passwords on electronic devices is also important, in the event the high value items are stolen.
Use of wireless internet should also be a concern. Chalmers says doing banking or shopping over an unsecured public connection can give someone else access to your information, so it’s best to avoid those activities unless you are on a network you trust.
Chalmers says students should also be careful with how they dispose of pre-approved credit card applications that often flood the mailboxes of young consumers. She suggests using a cross cut shredder to destroy them. You can also opt out of receiving those notices by going online.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:10)