I know that ID theft is widespread. How can I protect my
daughter from it when she goes away to college?
Identity theft can be a big issue for children at college
because they're living with new people in close quarters, they tend
to be dependent on technology, and they are often handling their
finances for the first time. Here are a few key steps that can help
them protect themselves from identity thieves.
If your child has an account with your bank, notify the
bank that she will be living away from home.
Banks and credit card companies have become much more vigilant
about spotting suspicious activity, including ATM and credit card
transactions in an unfamiliar city. Just as it's important to
notify your bank and card companies when you travel, it's also
important to let them know that your child will be using the
account in a new city while away at college. Otherwise, the bank
may freeze the account until it can verify charges in an unexpected
location. Notifying the bank will also make it easier for their
fraud department to spot actual suspicious activity.
Have important mail delivered to your home or encourage
your student to go paperless.
Because college life typically involves roommates and frequent
moves and vacations, it's best to have your student pay bills and
check bank statements online or have important mail, including bank
and credit card statements, delivered to your house instead of
having it sit around in your student's dorm, apartment or building
entrance. There have been a few cases where thieves landed jobs in
student apartment buildings to have easy access to students' mail
(and their personal information) while they were away, according to
Adam Levin, chairman of Identity Theft 911. If your student wants
to receive the statements at her apartment, remind her to stop the
mail while she is away and to submit a change of address form when
she moves. Either way, she should check bank statements and credit
card statements frequently online so she can spot any suspicious
Warn your student to be careful with Web access.
Internet security has improved at many colleges, says Kirk Herath,
chief privacy officer for Nationwide Insurance. The safer systems
require a password and ID for access. Warn your student not to
conduct financial business � or share any other
sensitive information � on a public Wi-Fi network. The
same advice that can help protect you from insecure Wi-Fi networks
when traveling can also help protect students when they're away at
Protect Yourself From ID Theft on Vacation
for more information.
Protect your student's computer and smart phone.
Students store tons of personal and financial information on their
laptop computers and smart phones and regularly use technology in
public places. Have the phone and computer password-protected so a
thief will have a tough time accessing the information if the
device is stolen. Also make sure your daughter has anti-virus and
anti-malware software on her computer that is programmed to update
How to Protect Your Identity, Finances If You Lose
for more information about how to protect the information on your
phone and what to do if it disappears.
Warn your kids about phishing scams.
Most grown-ups know to be suspicious of requests for money or
personal information from an e-mail or phone call that seems to be
from their bank or another company they do business with. But
college kids don't always realize that these are common schemes by
ID thieves to steal their information. And the phishing scams have
become more sophisticated, trapping even the most skeptical adults.
Protect Yourself From New Phishing Schemes
for more information.