Students may find more than a degree in their future -if not mindful of identity theft!

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If students are not vigilant in protecting their credit identity, they will find more in their future than just a degree. Many of them will destroy their credit rating if they fall victim to an identity theft. A thief can easily keep them from getting their dream-job regardless of how good their education is.

It is probably no surprise to parents that identity theft continues to be the fastest growing type of fraud. But what may surprise students and parents alike -is that people in the 18 to 29 age range are the fastest growing group of victims. One need not look too far to figure out why.

Students today have grown up in a digital society. They routinely post their personal information to websites like MySpace and Facebook. Often, they provide far too much information...their full names, addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, pet names and where they like to hang out and what their interests are... leaving them vulnerable to innovative criminals. A small piece of information that may seem innocuous to many, can provide a thief with enough information to wreak havoc in your life, and finances. The more information a thief has, the easier it is for him to guess passwords, gain your trust to entice you (or someone close to you) to divulge more personal information and that can turn into big trouble. In a nutshell, what seemed on the surface to be harmless bits of information, once assembled by the thief who orchestrated his/her dream scenario -can easily turn into your worst nightmare.

But it is not just online behavior that can lead to identity theft. College kids are bombarded with offers in the mail as well as through booths that are commonly setup on campus. Among the offers they should expect will be a barrage of credit card solicitations and if not careful trouble will strike when they least expect it. When using those credit cards initially the payments may seem affordable. However, when id theft strikes, interest rates rise -and so do the payments. When unpaid bogus accounts contaminate credit reports it can take months or years to fix the mess leaving one to pay higher auto insurance and credit card payments. The payments they thought they could afford have suddenly skyrocketed and so too will their stress level! Fraud Alerts can be placed on credit reports but it's important to know they fall off every 90 days of so.

Students should start by getting their free annual credit reports (at the legitimate place). The toll free number established through Amendments made to the Fair Credit Reporting Act is 877-322-8228. It's a toll free number and automated. All three reports can be ordered in one quick call. Remember knowledge is power and in the world of credit and fraud -what you don't know can definitely hurt you!

So what can you do about it? The bottom line is to be proactive when guarding your identity, credit and your life!

Here are some tips (and warnings) to keep in mind...

1. Laptops: Stolen laptops are another vehicle to obtain personal information about an individual. Over the last 6 months 1 out of 4 data breaches have happened in colleges and universities by stealing laptops at the registrar's office. Always make sure that your laptop is password protected at all times.

2. Be watchful of shoulder-surfers and shared computers. At ATMs and community computers are targeted by shoulder-surfers. They will often hover over you to catch PIN numbers. Always delete any personal information and passwords you may have entered into a shared computer. You never know who is going to be using it next.

3. Buy a shredder and use it. Shred everything, including bank statements, credit card receipts and pre-approved credit card offers. Any personal identifying information is viewed by a thief as gold.

4. Make sure all correspondence mailed to you has your correct name and address and no variations.

5. Monitor your credit card statements, bank statements and loan statements. If you are expecting a bill that doesn't come, contact your account holder immediately. If you see any unexpected spikes in your interest rates that can be a tip off that erroneous information is in your credit report.

6. Monitor you credit reports and look for any name, address or accounts that are not yours. Obtain your free annual credit report from the right place or directly from the credit bureaus if you have already received the free annual credit report you are entitled to.

7. Place fraud alerts on your credit reports. Remember, they fall off every 90 days or so. If you are not going to take the time to monitor and order your credit reports, consider hiring a company that does it for you. It's never just your identity they steal -it's you valuable time they rip off as well. Is your time valuable?

8. If you're moving, contact all your creditors and update them of your address changes immediately otherwise your statements and credit cards can be delivered to your old address and your address will not be reported accurately to the credit bureaus.

9. Never carry your Social Security number around with you -keep it protected. And don't give it out to just anyone who asks.

10. Don't provide your Social Security number, bank account number or credit card number to anyone who contacts you through telephone solicitation or email. Often times scam emails and phone calls will appear legitimate -but they are imposter sites and phone numbers. If you receive a notice asking you to contact them by calling the provided 800 number, first check your statement or documents that you know are valid. Do not call a number provided in an email -or phone call unless you are positive it belongs to the legitimate party.

College ID theft news from around the web

The Kansan

Several students have reported cases of identity fraud to the Lawrence Police in the last two weeks.
Sara Shannon just wants her passport back.

"It's terrifying, absolutely terrifying. Not only did this person screw me over royally in terms of finances and convenience, he put me in a vulnerable position. An unknown person now knows where I live, where I sleep, what health insurance I have, what countries I've been to, where I bank and what brand of condom I use.
-Sara Shannon, Ottawa junior

She became a victim of identity fraud when a thief stole her wallet that contained her credit card, driver's license and passport...more

College students are prime targets for ID theft
KOMO, WA - Sep 4, 2007

By Herb Weisbaum Identity theft is a serious problem -- one that is not limited to grown-ups. College students can also become victims. ...more

BG News (Bowling Green)

Q: What's 10 feet tall, bullet proof, has great earning potential and spills its guts on the Internet?

A: The typical college student.

While their actual paychecks remain to be seen, many students likely have no problem being pegged as both open and invulnerable. Unfortunately, that otherwise healthy attitude could wreak havoc with their finances, according to Todd Davis, a specialist in identity-theft risk management and founder of LifeLock, the nation's first identity-theft prevention service. more

For a 20% discount -courtesy of LifeLock use:
promtional code: denise

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