Applying for loans, consolidating student loans and opening credit cards are some of the most common activities that can become sources of identity theft. According to a current article on the Equifax finance blog, “Graduated This Year? Your Identity May Be At Risk,” recent college graduates have become the new target in identity theft acts.
Melissa Bingham, a Colorado State University graduate, found out how easily thieves can gain access to personal information when she was a victim of a spoof call where the caller claimed to be from the Colorado Department of Education. The caller knew her full name and what her degree was in. The caller then informed Bingham that she was under federal investigation. She needed to answer a few personal questions, or she could lose her recently earned degree.
The experts at Equifax said that recent college grads are vulnerable targets for identity thieves because they have vital information worth stealing and new forms of income, yet they’re still learning how the credit protection process works. Many college graduates are applying for internships, jobs, car loans or even credit cards – often for the first time, and many don’t know what sensitive information is or isn’t necessary to include on an application.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provided these tips for graduates to better protect their personal information:
- Monitor bank and credit card accounts for fraudulent or suspicious activities.
- Only mail personal documents to a secure place. Recent college graduates may want to send important documents to a parent’s house or a P.O. Box.
- Keep important documents protected.
- Avoid unprotected WiFi and Bluetooth networks.
- Be careful what you share on social media.
- Check your credit reports annually. You can receive one free copy of your credit report from each of the CRAs at AnnnualCreditReport.com.
It is important for recent college graduates to be informed that if a potential employer is asking for personal information, such as your social security number when applying to a job, that it is not something to be shared on an initial application. It is just as important to protect your personal information as it is to protect your cell phone, jewelry or other belongings.