Identity theft is a major problem for everyone, however college students are five times more likely to become a victim of identity theft than the general public. There are two primary reasons for their vulnerability. They live in close quarters with lax security and they do not take sufficient precautions to protect themselves in their dorm rooms or online. Identity theft can be high tech, low tech or no tech and college students are victimized in all three ways. They become victims of identity theft because, too often, they fail to protect their smartphones with security software or even a proper password. They click on links in emails, text messages and social media that promise to provide free music, video games, alluring photos or gossip without realizing that a large number of these communications are sent by identity thieves and that the links only download keystroke logging malware that steals their personal information from their computers, smartphones and other electronic devices and use this information to make them victims of identity theft. They download free apps from questionable sites and again end up downloading malware. They use free wifi in public locations without proper encryption and security software on their electronic devices not knowing that the free wifi they are using may be set up by an identity thief eavesdropping on their communications and stealing their information. They leave the computers in their dorm rooms unprotected by a good password and they leave important documents with personal information unprotected in their room.
On the low tech and no tech side of things, they should lock up all their important papers that contain personal information. They should also shred papers with personal information that they do not need to keep. They should install security software and encryption software on all of their electronic devices including their smartphones, computers and tablets. They should use strong passwords and different passwords for all of their accounts and devices. They should never click on links in emails, text messages or social media postings unless they have confirmed that the links are legitimate. Be wary of wifi and don’t use it for financial transactions.