Educate Students About Protecting Personal Information: Tips from the Identity Theft Assistance Center

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Research shows college-aged students are more likely to engage in activities that put them at higher risk of identity theft than other age groups. ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, offers practical tips to stay safe at school.

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Don't scare your student, but do talk frankly about the risks and why they should treat personal information like cash.

College students often engage in behavior that put them at higher risk of identity theft. ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, reminds parents to talk to their kids about protecting their personal information – both online and in the real world.

“In many cases this is the first time young people will set up accounts or apply for credit. And of course, they will be asked to complete lots of paperwork,” explains ITAC President Anne Wallace. “It’s a great time to talk to students about protecting personal information.”

Students should be especially careful about what they share online and on their phones. The 2012 Identity Fraud Survey by Javelin Research & Strategy shows that the majority of consumers who use social media reveal information that can be used to commit identity theft – such as date of birth, the name of their high school and their pet’s name. The survey also shows the majority of smartphone users fail to take security precautions, such as creating a strong password to protect information on the phone if it is lost or stolen.

“Don’t scare your student, but do talk frankly about the risks and why they should treat personal information like cash,” Wallace said.

  •     Create secure passwords for your devices. Be complex – create passwords using a combination of numbers and letters. Don’t use easily guessed passwords, like family members and pet names.
  •     Memorize your social security number. Do not carry the card in your wallet or purse.
  •     Be safe online. Don’t share your full date of birth, address, phone number, mother’s maiden name and other information that can be used to commit identity theft.
  •     Be safe at school. School mailboxes can be unsecure. Consider keeping sensitive documents, like tax statements and passports, at home, if you’re away at school. Consider having bank and credit card statements sent to your home.
  •     Regularly monitor your accounts online. This is the fastest way to catch suspicious activity and limit the damage caused fraud.
  •     Take advantage of free services from your financial services company, like alerts that notify you of account activity.

For more information, visit the ITAC website at identitytheftassistance.org.

About ITAC    
ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, is a nonprofit coalition of financial services companies that display the ITAC logo to demonstrate their commitment to protecting customers from identity theft. ITAC’s victim assistance service – which has helped more than 60,000 consumers recover from identity theft – is available at no cost to the millions of consumers who have an account at an ITAC member company.

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Kate Ennis
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