Recently, Javelin Strategy & Research issued its annual Identity Fraud Study and it is quite enlightening.   The study found that almost 13 million people were victims of identity theft last year at a cost of 16 billion dollars. One of the more interesting trends noted in the study is that while college age students are highly susceptible to identity theft, more than 64% of them said that they were not very concerned by fraud.  In addition, when college students became victims of identity theft, it took them longer to discover that their identity had been stolen and twice as long to remedy the problem than other victims of identity theft. College students are particularly susceptible to identity theft because of the close quarters in which they live where people may be coming into and out of their dorm rooms without much concern for security.  They are also vulnerable on their smartphones and other electronic devices as well as in their use of social media without often a concern for their privacy.


Identity theft is high tech, low tech and no tech.  It is necessary for college students and everyone else for that matter to protect themselves from all forms of identity theft.  Important papers should be kept locked in a secure container.  Documents with personal information should be shredded when being discarded rather than merely tossing in a wastebasket only to be retrieved by a dumpster diving identity thief.  The rules for intelligent smartphone use are the same for everyone.  They include using a strong password, installing the latest security software, only downloading apps from legitimate app stores and not clicking on links in text messages unless absolutely sure that it is legitimate.  Everyone should understand the privacy policy and privacy settings of the social media they use and limit the amount of personal information made available.  Finally, on social media as in any other form of electronic communications, never  click on links or download attachments regardless of how enticing they may appear unless you have confirmed that the link or attachment is legitimate.  Often the bait of a nude celebrity photo or some other lure is just a ruse to get you to download keystroke logging malware that will steal the information from your phone or  other electronic device and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.