For some of us, fall is about to begin and the graduates of the class of 2014 are heading off to colleges across the country. It’s an exciting time—there’s a reason so many people call college the best four years of their lives. You learn so much about the world and yourself. You make lifelong friends. You are an adult without the full responsibility of being an adult.
It’s pretty easy to believe that because you are young and not in the “real world” yet that you are immune to identity theft or credit card fraud. But crime isn’t so choosy about age. College students are actually a prime target for identity thieves because of naiveté. According to University of Colorado—Boulder, only 21% of college students are concerned about identity theft. And lack of concern leads to lack of managing financial and personal data making college students vulnerable to identity theft.
Luckily, managing your identity doesn’t have to be hard. Whether you’re an incoming freshman or a graduate student, here are four simple habits to help you protect your identity.
- Check your credit card reports monthly. Many people believe that thieves will drain their accounts. Although that certainly does happen, in many cases, thieves will only take out small increments of money over time to avoid getting caught. By checking your credit card and bank statements monthly you can catch any suspicious charges and immediately alert your bank or credit card company.
- Regularly change your passwords. Yes, it’s much easier to have one password for all of your accounts, but if hackers discover your password, they have easy access to all of your accounts. Diversify your passwords and make it a habit to change your passwords every other month. To make this simple, you can use a password manager, like McAfee SafeKey, which comes with McAfee LiveSafe™ service. And to learn more about creating strong password, go to www.passwordday.org.
- Cover the PIN pad when entering your PIN. Your PIN is the gateway to your bank account and thieves want it. This habit can protect you from skimming and video devices at automated teller machines (ATMs) or gas stations.
- Think twice before giving out your personal information. Hint: Your fraternity or sorority does not need your identification or Social Security number. If you are shopping online, make sure the website is secure and not a fake before entering your credit card information.
Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! Disclosures.