What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is a form of fraud where one person pretends to be another by stealing sensitive information such as their social security number, usernames and passwords, and credit card information.
Students are at a greater risk of identity theft and credit card fraud due to their relatively high use of credit cards.
78 percent of undergraduates have at least one credit card and the average balance carried is $2,478. The numbers are even higher for graduate students.
Students have reason to be especially careful about fraud and identity theft—31 percent of identity-theft victims are between the ages of 18 and 29.
The consequences of identity theft and credit fraud can be especially damaging for students just beginning their credit history. Long-term consequences of an adverse credit history can include:
- Higher interest rates on loans
- Denial of loans
- Difficulty in renting an apartment
- Denial of certain jobs
- Higher insurance premiums
- Large deposits for utilities or cell phone accounts
SFA & Identity Theft Prevention
As part of our mission to prepare students for financial success, SFA presents workshops throughout the school year highlighting safe credit practices and how best to avoid identity theft. Topics covered include:
- Safely applying for credit cards
- The responsible use of credit cards
- How to safeguard your electronic identity
Some further hints from SFA
- You may be a victim of identity theft if you stop receiving your monthly bills, receive credit cards you didn’t apply for, or receive unexpected poor credit.
- If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, immediately close all accounts including bank accounts, contact your local driver’s license agency to cancel your license and get a new one, and file a police report.
To help prevent identity theft:
- Don’t give your sensitive information to organizations or people you don’t know
- Never give personal information over the phone or internet unless you initiated the contact
- Check your credit annually with a free copy of your credit report
- Establish secure passwords that do not contain your name, your birthday or other easy-to-guess information
- Shred all credit card offers, receipts, or other documents with your information
- Only use your credit card to make purchases online when you are sure the site is secure
- Keep your computer up-to-date with virus protection