10 Aug 10 Tips to Help Your Students Detect and Avoid Identity Theft

By Joseph Jovell, Senior Marketing Associate at Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America, and young people between the ages of 18-24 are the most likely to be affected. We’ve compiled a list of tips for you to share with your students to help protect them. You can also direct students to the Federal Trade Commission’s identity theft and data security resources.

  1. Protect personal information such as your full name, birth date, Social Security number, and financial and medical account numbers.
  2. Use secure Wi-Fi when accessing sensitive information online. Before entering personal information, look for https:// in the site’s URL. This helps protect the privacy and integrity of data exchanged online.
  3. Be on alert for phone, online, or email scams that ask for any of your personal information. Shred printed materials that contain this type of information.
  4. Take a few moments to open and read the correspondence you receive so that you can proactively identify invoices or notices for accounts you may not have authorized.
  5. Review your monthly statements and immediately contact the financial institution, merchant, or health care provider about possible fraudulent charges or discrepancies.
  6. Create strong passwords, use two-step account verification when available, and avoid using the same password on sites.
  7. Be aware some identity protection services may use deceptive marketing practices to solicit customers. Generally, you can protect your accounts and check your credit statements and reports on your own.
  8. If you think your Social Security number may have been compromised, putting a security freeze on your credit reports denies new creditors access to your file if anyone (including you) attempts to open new accounts in your name. Keep in mind that freezing/unfreezing your reports may incur a small fee.
  9. Set up text and/or email alerts for your accounts to automatically inform you when activity occurs. You can often set alerts based on the amount charged or a specific number of charges in a 24 hour period.
  10. Monitor your credit report. The three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—are required to provide consumers with an annual free copy of their credit report. For more information, go to http://www.annualcreditreport.com.