Showing posts with label Students. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Students. Show all posts

Back to School Tips for Keeping Your Identity Safe

As students get ready to head off to school, perhaps for the first time, it’s important to keep in mind that just because someone is your roommate, it doesn’t mean they’re immediately your trusted friend. An FTC report from earlier this year shows that there were almost 12,000 victims of ID Theft under the age of 19 in 2013. We’ve previously addressed tips for protecting yourself from ID Theft (and we’re certain that most people have heard the basics like ‘don’t save your social security number on your computer,’ ‘don’t share your passwords,’ and ‘don’t leave credit cards lying around’ dozens of times).
Here is a pair of non-traditional tips that incoming students may not consider:
  •   Empty your pockets when you’re doing laundry- For many, dorm living is the first time that they have to do their own laundry. Make sure that important documents (driver’s license, student ID, etc) don’t end up stuck in the spin cycle.
  • Don’t let sticky fingers ruin your day- While it’s nice to think of the community spirit of dorm life, the reality is the some folks are a little less scrupulous than others. Here’s a great article on protecting your devices. 

Hackers Breach 53 Universities


According to the New York Times, thousands of personal records from 53 universities were posted online Monday in a data breach.  The hackers responsible for the breach are calling themselves Team GhostShell, and have also been responsible for a previous Twitter breach.  Some of the universities affected in this breach include Harvard, Stanford, Cornell, Princeton, and Johns Hopkins.

 In previous blog posts we have highlighted the importance for college students to monitor their credit, and protect their identity. This large scale data breach reminds us that college students should be vigilant about protecting their credit.  Here are some helpful tips for students to use while attending school.

Tips for College Students to Deter Identity Theft


With the start of the school year quickly approaching, the PrivacyGuard team would like to offer tips to college students to prevent Identity Theft.   Research from Javelin Research & Strategy identifies 18-24 year olds as consumers who are most likely to engage in risky electronic behavior, so college students should definitely be mindful of their online behavior while at school!

 Tip #1:  Use a Strong Password on Your Computer

 The use of a strong login password on a computer is a way to prevent fraud from occurring in a dormitory setting.  Doing so can prevent roommates and strangers alike from logging on to a potential victim’s computer.  We recommend using passwords with upper and lower case letters, mixed with numbers and symbols. 

 Tip #2:  Protect Your Computer with Antivirus Software

 Be certain to install antivirus software and to regularly update it to protect your computer from online threats. This is particularly important as universities move their data to the cloud, and continual connectivity to the internet becomes more prevalent in day to day studies. 

 I was required to update my antivirus software every semester while I attended college.  Even if your University doesn’t require it, we highly recommend updating the software on your own!

 Tip #3   Don’t Transact Over Public Wi-Fi

 While Public Wi-Fi offers an exceptional degree of convenience, it’s important to realize that thieves are able to intercept information being sent over the technology. Students are discouraged from sending any personal information, from credit/debit card numbers to social security numbers via public Wi-Fi.

As a college student, it is nearly impossible to follow this piece of advice, but it is an important factor to keeping your identity safe at school!


We have mentioned University Data Breaches before in our blog, so we know that they do occasionally occur.  Don’t let yourself become a victim! Be sure to check out our previous series for college kids, and de mindful of protecting your identity when returning to campus this fall!


Posted by Katie

University Data Breaches

We previously did a series of blog posts with tips on how college students can protect their identity.  See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 of the series. 


Within the past month, several Universities have faced serious data breaches leaving their students susceptible to Identity Theft. 

UNC-Charlotte faced a breach, as well as The University of Maine. 

Look back at our College Tip series to learn what college students should look for in case their identity is compromised in a data breach!

College Tip 5- What’s in a credit report- Public Records

This is the fourth post in a series about how college kids can help protect themselves from ID Theft. Feel free to visit Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

The public records section of our credit report shows information such as bankruptcy filings, court records, tax liens and other monetary judgments. Most college kids shouldn't have much (if any) information on this section of the report, but it's important to make sure that there aren’t any inaccuracies here.

Posted by Mike

College Tip 4- What’s in a credit report- Credit Inquiries

This is the fourth post in a series about how college kids can help protect themselves from ID Theft. Feel free to visit Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Our credit inquiries section of our credit reports gives a chronological account of which companies have performed inquiries in the past 2 years. This particular page is important to college kids for 2 reasons:

1- It's important to understand that every time you sign up to possibly gain a credit card, the inquiry can have a negative impact on your credit score. At school, many credit card companies will offer promotional giveaways of all sorts, and trying to take advantage of as many as possible can be detrimental to your overall credit health.
2- New account fraud is most often caught here.

Posted by Mike

College Tip 3- What’s in a credit report- Account History

This is the third post in a series about how college kids can help protect themselves from ID Theft. Feel free to visit Part 1 and Part 2.

The account history that we provide as part of our credit reports take each of the account found in the credit summary, and breaks them down in-depth, showing the type of account, the remaining balance and additional history of an account. If you spotted a discrepancy on the previous page, this page will give you an opportunity to delve into where that may lie.

Posted by Mike

College Tip 2- What’s in a credit report- Credit Summary

This is the second post in a series about how college kids can help protect themselves from ID Theft. Part 1 can be found here.

The Credit Summary we provide gives an overview of what types of account are open under a person’s name. There are 5 pieces of information on this page:

• Real estate accounts (this is any payment a person is making in the form or a mortgage).
• Revolving accounts (this is a summary of how many credit cards a person has in their name).
• Installment Accounts (this is a summary of recurring payments a person has in their name, such as a car payment).
• Other accounts.
• A derogatory summary (this highlights anything that might be driving your credit score down).

Each of the first 4 categories has Count, Balance, Current and Closed as subcategories. This shows how many of each type of accounts a person has, what their outstanding balance might be, how many are still open, and how many have been closed.

The Derogatory Summary shows recent inquiries on a person's credit, any places that a person has been in collections, and current or prior delinquencies.

This page is a great snapshot of a person's overall lines of credit (both open and closed), and you can quickly look to confirm that information is accurate here.

Posted by Mike

College Tip 1- What's in a credit report- Personal Profile

In our last post discussing college data breaches and ID Theft, we said something like:

College kids might not know what to look for in their credit report

The first section of a credit report (and we'll be using the credit reports that PrivacyGuard puts together as a basis) is personal info.

The first section is your "Personal Profile." This contains a summary of the information that the credit bureaus have on you about your current address, date of birth, and employers.

For the Credit Bureaus to be accurate in determining your credit score, it is important that this information is correct.

Posted by Mike

And Summer Vacation Hasn't Even Ended Yet

In last week's Data Breach Roundup, we saw a couple of universities being breached. It isn't the first time, that there have been multiple schools breached, and if we had to guess, it won’t be the last.

One of the bigger concerns when it comes to breaches of students (and really, anyone who is young), is that thieves become able to cause long term, significant trouble for the demographic.

Usually, college is when a kid gets his/her first (and maybe second or third) credit card. However, we've found that most kids don't really understand the process of how they are approved, just that they think they have a few hundred extra dollars available.

Where it becomes tricky is when a thief takes advantage of this, and opens a concurrent line of credit. It's entirely possible the thief will actually take steps to build up the youngster's credit history, paying on time and generally doing everything a college kid should in order to build strong credit.

This can go on for years.

After a while though, and once a credit history is strong enough, thieves can make major purchases (like cars or even homes), flip their purchase for a significant dollar amount, and then simply walk away.

The "college kid" (who at this point is much older), would never even have an idea that the theft has taken place until

1- Years later
2- A collection agency calls asking them about a mortgage.

So, now more than ever, college kids needs to protect themselves. Over the coming month, we'll be providing regular tips on how they can do so, as we get ready for back-to-school season.

Posted by Mike