According to the Federal Trade Commission, young adults 18 to 29 make up the largest proportion of identity theft victims. That’s a frightening statistic, and one that Kansas State students need to be aware of. Here are some tips to help protect you from identity theft.
Shred everything. One of the many ways that identity thieves can acquire information is through dumpster diving. If you are throwing out bills, credit card statements, ATM receipts, or even junk-mail solicitations for credit cards and mortgages, you may be leaving too much information lying around. Buy a personal shredder and shred all papers with personal information on them before disposing of them.
Destroy digital data. When you sell or dispose of a computer or a hard drive, you need to take extra steps to ensure the data is completely destroyed. Just deleting the data or reformatting the hard drive is not enough. Someone with a little tech skill can easily restore files or recover data from a formatted drive. Use a hard drive erasing software to make sure that any personal information stored on hard drives is completely destroyed.
Pay your bills at the post office. Never leave your paid bills in your mailbox to be sent out. A thief who raids your mailbox would be able to acquire much of your critical information in just one envelope- your name, address, credit account number, your bank information including the routing number and account number from the bottom of the check, and a copy of your signature from your check for forgery purposes. Drop your bills at the post office or at least in an official drop box to ensure that this doesn’t happen.
Protect your Social Security number. You should never use your Social Security Number as any part of a username or password that you create and you should never give it to telephone solicitors or in response to spam emails. Knowing your full name, address and full Social Security Number, or even just the last 4 digits in many cases, can let someone assume your identity.
Analyze your credit report annually. It is possible to get a free look at your credit report once per year. The big three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) joined forces to provide free credit reports to consumers. The web site is annualcreditreport.com. You should review it to make sure the information on it is accurate and also make sure that there aren’t any accounts on there that you aren’t aware of or any other suspicious activity.
Peer Counselor II
Powercat Financial Counseling