What is identity theft?
Use of your identity, without your knowledge or permission, to commit fraud is a serious crime. The most common type of identity (ID) theft is financial fraud where perpetrators gather personal information—names, Social Security numbers, addresses, account numbers—to use or open accounts for their own personal gain.
Prime target for ID theft: You
As a student, you will receive many credit card offers. Credit card companies want to sign you up early in your college career and keep you as a lifetime customer. At the same time, you become a prime target for ID thieves, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Criminals count on you not following simple preventive steps that you must take to protect your credit status.
Be forewarned: one encounter with an unscrupulous person can adversely impact your credit for years to come. Take action now to reduce your risk of ID theft:
- Never throw away credit card offers; always shred them.
- You'll be an easy target if you don't lock up all sensitive documents, especially student loan records.
- Never leave your blank checkbook sitting out on a desk.
- Be sure to check your bank and credit card statements carefully.
For additional suggestions on how to protect yourself, visit these helpful resources:
- Student Aid and Identity Theft: Safeguard Your Student Aid Information, U. S. Department of Education.
- Misused home page, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Dept of Education
- Deter-Detect-Defend-Avoid ID Theft campaign, Federal Trade Commission
- Identity Theft and Fraud, U. S. Department of Justice