Consumer Reports: Protect college students from identity theft

Friday, November 10, 2017 07:42AM
Consumer Reports has important tips on keeping financial information safe on campus.

Last year, nearly a third of reported identity theft involved credit cards according to the Federal Trade Commission, and college students can be especially vulnerable. Consumer Reports has important tips on keeping financial information safe on campus.

Nadine Schiefer uses her credit and debit cards to purchase just about everything, like meals, books, and entertainment. She and her mom sometimes worry about criminals stealing Nadine's identity and racking up bills in her name.

"I know that it has happened to people that I know. If it's happened to them, why can't it happen to me?" Nadine Schiefer said.

"You have to go through a long process trying to fix all the problems that this can bring," said Marina Schiefer, Nadine's mom.

Nadine knows not to share sensitive information like passwords, credit card numbers and her Social Security number unless absolutely necessary. But, Consumer Reports says there are other ways critical information can leak out.

"Criminals love public Wi-Fi because it may not be secure, potentially giving those criminals access to your computer. For things like shopping or banking, it's better to use private Wi-Fi that you access with a password," said Consumer Reports Electronics Editor Bree Fowler.

Consider using your phone's data connection for sensitive transactions. That's also safer than public Wi-Fi for banking or shopping.

"It's important to keep in mind that college databases have been hacked recently. Now, while students can't do much about that, they can take steps to limit the damage from data breaches whether on campus or elsewhere," Fowler said.

Change passwords and check bank statements and credit cards for unauthorized charges.

Also check with the credit reporting companies, Transunion, Experian and Equifax for unexplained debt. And if anyone has tried to open up credit in the student's name, inform the bureau that the attempt was fraudulent.

If you think your identity has been stolen consider also putting a temporary freeze on your credit. That's done through the three credit reporting agencies.

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