Recently, my niece received a letter from one of the universities she applied to and shared with me that she had been accepted. I was so happy for her that I could have run a marathon. She also shared with me that she is planning to live in a dorm on campus. As her uncle, I was not only concerned about her safety, but also concerned about her identity.
Did you know that identity theft on college campuses is common, but rarely spoken about? In some instances, thieves are fellow students who reside in the same dormitory or apartment building. If you are a parent, or in my case an uncle, and have a child that attends college away from you or is planning to, consider having a conversation with your child to help him or her to prevent identity theft on campus.
Here are some helpful tips to get the conversation started:
1. Never keep identifying financial information like PIN or account numbers, or important documents like Social Security cards and birth certificates unsecured in dorm rooms or apartments. Don’t carry anything more in your wallet or purse than you absolutely need, such as your driver’s license, student ID and one credit or debit card. And never loan any of these items to anyone else, no matter how good a friend they seem to be.
2. Be wary when ordering clothes, books, movies and merchandise online and only do business with sites that have the security lock symbol that shows they’re taking measures to protect your information.
3. Shred credit card offers before throwing them away and never complete a credit card application at an on-campus table or booth – even if they’re offering a cool free T-shirt just for applying. Instead, go through the credit card company’s secure Web site, or contact your bank for a credit card before you get to school.
4. Be aware of who’s around you when you’re using your cell phone or notebook on campus, and never discuss or send personal information in public that could be used to steal your identity.
Share this information with your children as I will with my niece.