ID theft is on the upswing and college students are at high risk

U.S. identity fraud is at an all-time high, and recent reports indicate that college students are at particular risk for ID theft, partly because it often takes them twice as long to learn that they have been swindled. Studies show that most fraud begins occurring with a week from when the data is stolen. But because college kids are less likely to track banking and credit card activity on a routine and timely basis, the fraud often goes undetected longer.

Additional risks that make college students susceptible to ID theft:
So-called “friendly fraud” — fraud perpetrated by friends and family — accounts for one in seven fraud cases.
College students are very active on social media sites, and may unwittingly share more sensitive information than they realize.
To deter ID theft, experts offer the following tips:

  • Monitor your financial accounts regularly
  • Be cautious about sharing identifying information on social networking sites
  • Learn how to recognize and be alert for phishing scams
  • Use secure passwords and change them frequently
  • Log out of your computer when you are not using it
  • Keep your computer up to date with the latest spyware and anti-virus software

For more resources on identity fraud, see the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Site and the FBI’s e-scams & warnings page.

Identity Theft Insurance

You may want to consider Identity Theft Insurance, but first be sure you learn more about what it does and doesn’t cover before you purchase – many people have misconceptions. Also, check to see how any existing coverage you have, such as Homeowners, might protect you. And do your homework before purchasing. Check The National Association of Insurance Commissioners Consumer Alert, which notes that while policies are available, they do not protect you from becoming a victim of identity theft and do not cover direct monetary losses incurred as result of identity theft. Rather, they insure you for any costs that might be incurred in reclaiming your identity, such as hiring an attorney, taking time from work, and any administrative costs such as the cost of phone calls or postage.