How to Help Students Prevent Identity Theft

Posted on 24 January 2017 |

help students prevent identity theftCollege can be a daunting time for many incoming freshmen. Their first time away from home can bring on many new challenges--and hazards.  In fact, one of the most overlooked dangers may be identity theft.

Studies show that the highest percentage of identity theft victims are between the ages of 20-29. And college students are five times more likely to be identity theft victims compared to the general public.

But why is this the case? Well, for one there are many places on campus where identity theft can occur. Places like dorms, libraries and computer labs are all common places where identities get stolen.

Also, many college students may not be aware of their risk for identity theft. Students may leave documents with personal info in their dorm and not realizing the value of the information to a theif. In this post, we will discuss how you can help your students stop thieves from stealing their identity.

Why are Students Such Popular Targets?

As we mentioned earlier, college students are attractive prospects for identity thieves. One of the main reasons, as pointed out by scambusters, is that many of these students don't have criminal records. This makes it easier to carry out illegal activities without much scrutiny. 

Also, students will most likely have a clean credit history. A clean credit history makes it easy to open up credit cards or secure loans. What are the consequences of this? Well, this could tank a student’s credit score, which affects their ability to get certain jobs or receive loans. 

Students can also be careless with their personal documents. Leaving out documents containing sensitive information can be a gold mine for identity thieves. According to scambusters, 49 percent of college students receive frequent applications for credit cards, and 30 percent of those students will throw them away without removing their personal information. These documents can then be used for nefarious purposes by identity thieves. 

What Locations on Campus Are the Highest Risk for Identity Theft?

Computer Labs or Libraries

Since libraries and labs have computers accessible to the student body (or in some cases, the public), there are several ways thieves can steal information. For example, someone could upload a virus or keylogger that tracks all sites visited and keys pressed. If a student were to login to a website or email on a compromised machine, a thief could gain access to their information.

Another risk is people not logging out of their accounts on public machines. This leaves  their account information accessible for the next user. To combat this, it is good practice to leave reminders to log out when the user leaves the computer. 

Anywhere a Credit or Debit Card is Used

Over the past few months, there has been a rise in the use of credit card skimmers, especially around campuses. These devices allow a credit number to be stored in the thief’s database. These numbers are then used to duplicate credit cards or sold to third parties. Since chip technology has not been universally adopted, these machines are still used. And many of these skimmers can look inconspicuous to the naked eye making them easy to fall for.

Dorm Rooms

A student dorm is another common place for identities to get stolen. Like our earlier example with disposing documents, students may leave sensitive materials out in the open. Leaving a laptop open or a credit card statement out can provide a ton of personal information. And since dorms are full of many students, an open room can be an invitation to steal this information.


The internet can be a great tool, but students should take precautions with their personal information. Students should always make sure to have an updated virus protection service. This can help stop malware and other viruses from infecting their machines. Students should als make use of two factor authentication. This will add an extra step to logging in, but makes it almost impossible to break in with just a password.

How Can Students Avoid Getting Their Identity Stolen?

While the threat of identity theft is still large, there are a few important things your campus can do to prevent it. For one, training your students about identity theft can be a great first step. Teaching students how and where identity theft occurs helps them better identify and avoid it.

Resource guides are another way to help students. Having fliers around campus and dorms can provide reinforcement to students after training. Also, you can email your guidelines to student for additional reinforcement. On top of this, encourage students to to frequently update their passwords or use two factor authentication. These strategies are  easy implement and can play a big role in combating identity theft. 


Identity theft on campus is a serious threat to your students. They are very popular targets and need to be made aware how to reduce their risk of becoming a victim. With so many places that identity theft can occur, it’s imperative you put preventative measures in place to keep your students safe.

Does your campus do anything we didn’t mention to combat identity theft? Let us know in the comments below.

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