College students are primary targets for identity theft because of the constant use of their Social Security number when applying for things such as credit cards, student loans, online purchases and classes. According to Gateway (www.unogateway.com), there were 9.9 million victims of identity theft in 2003, costing over 5 billion dollars in the United States. In 2004, identity theft was the fastest growing crime in the country, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The Department of Justice estimates more than 700,000 cases occur every year. The identity thief normally steals the identification and makes purchases online or over the phone. Many cases show identity thieves getting student loans in other peopleʼs names.
There are many ways to take preventative measures in avoiding identity theft. It is beneficial to keep documents with your Social Security number in a safe place, rather than just lying on a desk or in a book bag. Social Security cards should not be kept in a wallet or purse in order to avoid this occurrence. Federal Education officials are warning college students to watch out for identity theft along with the concern that it could put students in huge debt. Criminals can use this information to make financial transactions, including opening credit card accounts, accessing bank accounts and applying for loans. The IRS warned states last summer to not trust the identification numbers as someoneʼs form of identification.
The restrictions are intended to make sure the numbers are only used for tax administration. This also helps to minimize the increasing amount of identity theft. In order to avoid being a victim of identity theft you should memorize your pin numbers and passwords. Never write them down. Do not throw documents out and make sure you shred pre-approved credit card applications. Remember to never give information over the phone to a creditor unless you initiated the phone contact.
If your credit card or wallet is lost or stolen you should immediately report it to your financial institution. Many higher learning facilities have taken measures on minimizing the high amount of identity theft by also shredding important documents. However, some college students still feel vulnerable because their Social Security number is also their student ID number.
In stealing the identity of students, one of the main targets is getting student loans in another personʼs name. If in any way you suspect identity theft with your student loans, contact the U.S. Department of Educationʼs Office of Inspector General at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1- 800-MISUSED.