How To Protect Your Identity While at College

September 12, 2023

Though everyone knows about identity theft, many feel it could never happen to them. For some, that feeling of invincibility starts in high school and continues into later adulthood. Others doubt their chances of identity theft because they did not share their information with anyone. Both have proven accurate for many college students.

A Surprising Target

College students have proven particularly vulnerable due to the many databases containing their information. In addition, many colleges allow companies to post salespeople on campus to convince students to sign up for credit cards, phone plans, and other accounts that require sensitive information.

As such, students mishandling their information and becoming victims of identity theft has become a reoccurring consequence. Many do not realize the damage until years later. Identity theft can go unnoticed for years, coming up only after the student applies for a job, apartment, credit card, or anything else that requires a credit check.

While attending college, consider following these steps to start protecting your identity.

Avoid Using Public Computers or Public WiFi

Despite the convenience, public WiFi is not a safe choice. Anyone could access your information once you connect. For example, if you shop online using the coffee shop’s WiFi, an identity thief could learn your name, credit card, security code, or bank account information.

Public WiFi is not secure, allowing anyone using it to view what others input. Consider investing in a Virtual Information Network (VPN) if you use public WiFi. VPNs encrypt your data before sending it on the wireless network. This security deters many identity thieves because it takes too long to crack.

Students should also stay away from public computers when possible. Sure, there are times when you may need to use the library’s computer for some reason. Public computers can contain malware, like spyware. Spyware secretly gathers and transmits information you put into the computer. When successful, you can become a victim of identity theft and never realize how it happened.

Protect Your Social Security Number

You should not carry your Social Security card with you. It is best to keep it in a safe place and only bring it when needed. 

Your student ID number sometimes matches your Social Security Number (SSN). If this happens to you, request the school to change your ID number. They do not need to know why, but if they ask, ensure you do not mention your SSN.

Stay vigilant about your SSN. This is the most important number in your life, so it requires the most protection. Ensure your instructors do not post your grades under your SSN. This practice makes it dangerously easy for identity thieves to steal it.

Consider Identity Theft Insurance

Unfortunately, even the most cautious people can have their identity stolen. Becoming a victim of identity theft is a costly experience, so ensure you practice these steps and more to protect yourself. Investing in identity theft insurance is one way to ease the pains and financial burden.

Though it does not cover the specific act of theft, it does help with the costs of reclaiming your identity. Such charges include attorney fees, lost wages from time spent correcting the issue, and other issues that often appear due to identity theft.

If you find yourself a victim of identity theft, act quickly. You should notify your financial institutions, freeze your credit, and then report the theft to the police and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC can guide you on how to deal with identity theft.

The faster you act, the less damage the thief can cause. When you suspect identity theft, consider running a self-background check. Self-checks can warn you when something suspicious has happened under your name and reveal the damages already done by thieves. Once you find it, you can use this information to correct errors and prevent further harm.

Protect and guard your personal information and your identity with a seamless self background check. Try it today.