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College Students are a Growing Risk of Identity Theft PDF Print E-mail
Written by Thomas J. Keeley   

ImageBudgeting for college? Getting the most out of your online banking? Saying good-bye to your parents and hello to freedom? Students beware, you could also be saying good-bye to critical personal information.

With big dreams and high hopes, students leave for college with credit cards, bank accounts, driver’s license’s (sometimes more than one if you’re under 21) – all sensitive data that if stored on personal computers could create substantial risk.

In a 2006 CompUSA Techinsights survey of college students across the nation, nearly 88 percent of respondents claimed to have kept, or are currently keeping personal files on their computers. This survey also revealed that while most college students were well aware of computer security procedures, many didn’t practice them, leaving them susceptible for identity theft. 

Of this survey, one of the most notable findings involved phishing, an attempt to fraudulently acquire sensitive information by masquerading as a trustworthy person or business via electronic communication, such as an e-mail or instant-message.

According to the survey, forty-one percent of those surveyed stated that they weren’t sure or didn’t know what phishing was. Of that forty-one percent, nine percent admitted they had responded to some form of electronic communication that had asked them for private information, such as bank account numbers and passwords.

“As a society, we are keenly aware that Internet scams, such as phishing, are increasingly a problem,” said Brian Woods, executive vice president and general merchandise manager for CompUSA. “But these survey findings could indicate that our young people are the most vulnerable”.

Of the more than 635,000 identity theft complaints reported worldwide in 2004, 18 to 29 year-olds were the largest affected age group, according to Federal Trade Commission.

“As technology becomes more and more prevalent in our lives, parents have an obligation to inform their children of the risks associated with it,” Woods said.

Securing your personal information, five ways to protect your privacy:

1.)  Never leave your laptop computer unlocked when you are in the library or other public places. If you don’t have a laptop you can purchase them at CompUSA, for often less than $50.

2.)  When using wireless internet connections, make sure you are using a connection you know and trust. A growing trend in WiFi intrusions is “evil-twin” networks, or connections that disguise themselves as other networks. These evil-twin networks can easily trick your computer into revealing private data such as passwords, stored account numbers, etc.

3.)  Always use a firewall! These days firewalls are available everywhere. If you use Windows XP with SP2, you will already have a firewall monitoring program installed. Should you not want to use their technology, a reliable firewall program such as ZoneAlarm (www.zonelabs.com) can be purchased under $50.

4.)  Be smart with your credit cards! If the website you are using doesn’t seem safe, don’t use it! All secure sites will have a secure sockets layer, or SSL that lets you know that the site you are browsing is secure. On PC’s, you can easily tell if the site you are on is secure by the displaying of a yellow-lock on the bottom corner of the website you are browsing.

5.)  Don’t save passwords on your computer. While it might be hard to remember all of your passwords, saving them could be more dangerous than picking something a little easier to remember.  The little bit of extra effort is well worth saving your credit, identity and money.

Last Updated ( Monday, 11 September 2006 )
 
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