Identity thieves target college kids
The communal life of dorms and personal data on unguarded laptops make it child's play for identity thieves to victimize college students.
Warnings aplenty are issued about the problem -- from federal agencies, advocacy groups, universities and identity theft protection firms -- but paying attention to those warnings is another story. For many freshmen, in particular, it's the first time away from home for any prolonged period and some of the lessons of personal finance and security have not yet been learned.
People come and go in the communal life of dorms -- a vulnerability few others have to deal with. And keeping track of checks, checkbooks, financial documents, bank statements, credit cards and the like is most likely a new experience.
Identity thieves not only appreciate those vulnerabilities and the access, but also that college students are unlikely to have bad marks on their credit histories and are far less likely to check those reports to see if anyone is using credit in their name.
The U.S. Department of Education reports these survey results about college students that make plain the risks they take:
- Nearly half of the students at college get credit card applications and a regular basis and throw them out without destroying them.
- Almost 33% say they rarely (or not all) reconcile their checking accounts or credit card statements.
- Close to half of those in college say their grades are posted using their Social Security number.
Do you use your personal computer for online banking transactions?
Do you use your personal computer to buy merchandise or purchase tickets for travel, concerts, or other services?
Do you receive credit card offers in the mail? Do you discard these documents before you shred them?
Do you store personal information in your computer?
Do you use a cell phone?
Do you use your Social Security number for identification?
Do you have a student loan?
To help guard against identity theft, here is a list of recommendations compiled by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to help college students protect themselves:
Avoid carrying your Social Security number and driver's license together in your wallet.
If the school uses your Social Security number for your student I.D., request an assigned number.
Shred pre-approved credit card offers and bills before disposing of them.
Avoid putting outgoing mail in unsecured campus mailboxes. Instead, deposit outgoing mail directly in U.S. Postal Service mailboxes.
Do not shop online or pay bills on a public computer.
Be suspicious of solicitors. You should never give personal financial information or your Social Security number to anyone unless they have good reason for needing it.
Limit the amount of information you place online. Whether on a university directory or a social networking site like MySpace or Facebook, remember that anyone can read what you post. Don't make personal identifying information public.
More from MSN Money:
“Well, the truth is...ah, shoot, well; we all know there's Washington's math problem. Alan Sloan in recent Newsweek says he spends 150%. What we've been doing, Mr. Chairman, in all reality, is taken a hundred billion out of the Social Security Trust Fund, transferring it over to the spending column, and spending it. Our friends to the left here are getting their tax cuts, we getting our spending increases, and hollering surplus, surplus, and balanced budget, and balanced budget plans when we continue to spend a hundred billion more than we take in.
That's the reality, and I think that you and I, working the same side of the street now, can have a little bit of success by bringing to everybody's attention this is all intended surplus. In other words, when we passed the Greenspan Commission Report, the Greenspan Commission Report only had Social Security in 1983 a two hundred million surplus. It's projected to have this year a 117 million surplus. I've got the schedule; I'll ask to put in the record the CBO report: 117, 126, 130, 100, going right through to 2008 over the ten year period of 186 billion surplus. That was intended; this is dramatic about all these retirees, the baby boomers. But we foresaw that baby boomer problem; we planned against that baby boomer problem. Our problem is we've been spending that particular reserve, that set-aside that you testify to that is so necessary. That's what I'm trying to get this government back to reality, if we can do that.
We owe Social Security 736 billion right this minute. If we saved 117 billion, we could pay that debt down, and have the wonderful effect on the capital markets and savings rate. Isn't that correct? Thank you very much, Sir. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”
The above explains how the lack of control takes advantage of the federal money. As of 2013 the federal government owes 2.6 trillion dollars to the Old Age and Survivors Insurance trust fund (Social Security) plus an additional 140 billion dollars for the disability trust fund. Here is the kicker; Congress keeps bringing up the possibility of an increase in Social Security because the fund is running out of money. The joke is on the elderly and the ignorant that put idiots in Congress as representatives.
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