3 On Your Side: College Identity Theft Advice

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jim-donovan-web Jim Donovan
Jim Donovan is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning consumer reporter w...
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By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As college students begin to head back to school, they’ll get lots of reminders on how to keep their personal belongings safe. But a different kind of theft could be far more costly. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan has some advice for keeping personal data safe on campus.

Students pass around a lot of personal information in the first days of the school year, everywhere from the registrar’s office to the bank. For identity thieves, those college students are a popular target. Michael Kaiser is the Executive Director of the National Cyber Security Alliance. He says, “They haven’t established a credit history yet, so they kind have a clean slate in the credit world, and they’re not likely to check their credit history or have their credit history checked until they graduate from college.”

It’s not just keeping an eye on your wallet anymore. A smartphone, tablet, or laptop can give a thief access to valuable information, so keep certain pieces of data especially secure. Mary Power with the Better Business Bureau says, “College students are very open and very trusting and they want to trust everybody. And we want them to, to a certain point. But we want them to be careful particularly with those three items: the bank account number, the credit card number, and the Social Security card number.”

Also, try to get a sense of your college or university’s privacy policies and whether they could leave an opening for a breach. Kaiser says, “Any new college students, I say, ‘Hey, ask, what are you doing with my information? How do you store information? Are you going to take that file and lock it in a cabinet when I leave here?’ I mean those are the basic things that keep information safe.”

Credit card offers are slightly less prevalent on campuses due to changes in federal law. But if filling out applications, students should be mindful to keep the information secure.

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