Photo by: Joe Sullivan via Flickr
A new report from the Federal Trade Commission reveals that more than 399,000 college students filed for identity theft in 2016.
During the manic rush to prepare for the year, students spend more time gathering loans and books, and figuring out their budget rather than wondering if their money is even safe. Although the 2016 figure is down three percent from last year, it came to be that thieves were more likely to use stolen information in 2016 than in 2015, an almost double increase from 2015’s 16 percent.
Javelin Strategy and Research also did a study for 2014 (most recent data available) and found that 22 percent of college students only found out they had been a victim of identity theft after they applied for and were denied a credit card. This figure is three times higher than average fraud victims. In addition, college students were four times more likely than average consumers to have their identity stolen by someone they know.
Thieves use an array of methods to steal identities, from the standard over-the-shoulder peeking at an ATM to sending fake credit card offers.
One of the most common methods of identity theft, however, involves public Wi-Fi. It is common for students to connect to the internet wherever they are, like in the nearby cafe or in the library, but it is important to know that these connections are not secure. Skilled hackers are able to connect to your computer through the network and steal information. The FTC advises that students pay bills only on secure networks, such as a home Wi-Fi.