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Residential Students with Increased Risk of Identity Theft

Updated: Nov 14, 2019

As students migrate to their campuses for the coming year of study, some for the first time and some veteran academics, they should be aware that undergraduate students are at a comparatively increased risk for identity theft and the compromising of their assets and opportunities. For many, an environment where they need to implement measures to prevent the leaking of their personal information is a new concept and something as simple as a credit card advertisement can lead to far greater repercussions than they may know to consider. To compound this, internet-related breaches are a new and developing threat that demands preventative attention.

Identity theft comes in many shapes and forms, usually targeting bank and credit accounts held by the individual or even credit accounts that are opened by the offender in the victim’s name. According to Consumer Affairs, the Federal Trade Commission handled $1.48 Billion in losses to victims of fraud. Among the three most common types of fraud is identity theft. In the case of the residential student, a very simple way to compromise information would be to leave personal information such as bank statements or credit reports laying around where roommates and visitors could potentially access the information. A bit more difficult problem with physical documents is that many collegiate institutions have internal mail distribution networks that sometimes incorrectly allocate parcels to the wrong individual. For expensive or overly sensitive information, some authorities and advisory resources advise students to utilize their permanent address or even a P.O. box to avoid the exposure of their belongings or information to those internal systems. Within the last 30-40 years some educational institutions have used students’ Social Security Numbers as the identification number for various student portals or even the numbers on the issued ID cards. While this issue is seemingly no longer very prominent, it speaks to the fact that the security breach we may be facing might not be as obscure as one might hope.

Another area of risk is the networks that students choose to use. While the college or university’s system may or may not be sufficiently protected, those who take part time work elsewhere or work from various locations such as coffee shops, public libraries, and other public spaces are often at higher risk. Sending or receiving confidential or personal data over unsecure networks can lead to that information being used for malicious or illegal activity. Even something as simple as logging into a bank website in a place where someone may overlook and gather information has been a recurring path that opens an individual up to identity theft.

The consequences of identity theft to anyone can be detrimental, but for young adults who are studying or beginning their careers, having their identity stolen can have adverse impact on their future. As mentioned above, the most common crimes committed as a result of identity theft are related to one’s finances and credit. A critical compromise to one’s credit score or savings accounts and that person’s ability to lease a car, get an apartment, buy a house, or even get a job in their field can be compromised. A small amount of forethought can be quite effective in warding off these concerns – shredding documents or storing them in a secure place, utilizing secure networks for important information, and securing your accounts and passwords are common and very simple precautions to take to safeguard your future.

© De Angelis & Associates 2019. All Rights Reserved.


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