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University Police

2013 Edition, September Issue

Identity Theft is commonplace among college students
by Sgt. Ed Jones

     As students adjust to life on campus, paying for tuition and books aren’t the only problems they face. An increasing trend on college campuses is that of identity theft. It is now apparent that college students are among the more likely victims of theft, where personal information is used to obtain credit cards and cause a wealth of difficulties.

     There is not an easy way to avoid identity theft, aside from being careful. It is easy to use credit cards now a days, convenience has made the crime rate grow, along with the fact that it’s an easy way to get money with a low risk of getting caught. It can take months, up to years, to clear your name. Education on protection of your identity is the best way to avoid becoming a victim.

     How does identity theft occur? Thieves pose as credit card company representatives, scavenge through trash, steal and redirect mail, use internet access of databases, and surf the Internet for personal information.

     Thieves use fictitious representation. A criminal will set up a table in a public area and pretend to represent a legitimate credit card company. The victim, unknowingly facilitate theses criminals when they complete the application and provide all the necessary information required to open a new account. The criminals will have the new credit card delivered to a predetermined pickup site. If you want a credit card contact the company directly.

     Dumpster Diving. Thieves who retrieve material looking for anything you have discarded with personal information such as social security number, account numbers, addresses, dates of birth, financial, medical information, and pre-approved credit cards. It is recommended that you shred all documents that contain personal information before you discard them.

     Mail Theft. Thieves break into mail boxes looking for paid bills or credit card payments that people leave in their mailboxes for the postal carrier to collect Thieves use the information fro these items to obtain credit, purchase products and/or services under the unbeknownst victim’s name. You should drop your paid bills and account payments at the post office.

     Prevention Tips. Do not share personal information with college roommates. When traveling for spring break or other vacations, do not place address labels on the outside of the luggage where information is visible to the public. Secure all personal identification numbers and paperwork. When filling out an application, do not provide your social security number until time of hire. By, you are not obligated to provide this information until then. Avoid e-mails requesting personal information. Do not leave cell phones and laptops unattended. Do not use cell phones to check account balances, as the codes you enter will be accessible through call history. Do not have credit cards or billing statements sent to your school. Have them sent to your home.

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