Identity theft, it’s one of those things that we tend to expect to happen to other people – not to us! But the fact of the matter is, it’s real, and it’s affecting more students than ever before.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft takes place when someone uses another person’s identity. Usually with the main goal of gaining financial advantage.
When can it happen?
Identity thieves are resourceful. They will find many ways to gain access to your personal information. The most common way identity theft happens nowadays is through online scams. Identity thieves will often create bogus online forms. Then the unsuspecting victims will fill them in. But, online scams are not the only way in which identity theft can take place.
Your identity can be stolen if:
• Your purse or wallet is stolen, and it contains your drivers’ license, bank cards or ID book
• Thieves get hold of your mail
• Scammers ‘skim’ your information from an ATM after you’ve used it
How can I protect myself?
The only way to protect yourself from identity theft is to always be aware. If an online competition seems too good to be true, it is! If an attachment sent to you via an unknown email address seems dodge, don’t open it.
The time to apply for student loans is now, so now is also the time to be particularly conscious of chancers. Avoid using public Wi-Fi when applying for student loans. Keep a look-out for anyone who seems to be lurking close to you when filling in your forms. Your identity thief could be someone looking over your shoulder!
When using an ATM, never force your card into the slot. It should slide in. If it doesn’t, there may be a skimming device blocking its path. Stop what you’re doing immediately and walk away.
Never dispose of your mail in the household trash. Have it shredded or keep it somewhere safe at home.
Only shop online using secured websites. The URL should be https, not only http.
If in doubt, investigate it. If you receive an email from your bank requesting action on your part, phone them. Make sure that they, in fact, sent the email.
You can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your identity!