Nadine Schiefer uses her credit and debit cards to purchase just about everything, like meals, books and entertainment. She and her mom sometimes worry about criminals stealing Nadine’s identity and racking up bills in her name.
“I know that it has happened to people that I know. If it’s happened to them, why can’t it happen to me?” said Schiefer.
She knows not to share sensitive information like passwords, credit card numbers and her Social Security number unless absolutely necessary. But, Consumer Reports says there are other ways critical information can leak out.
“Criminals love public Wifi because it may not be secure, potentially giving those criminals access to your computer. For things like shopping or banking it’s better to use private Wifi that you access with a password,” said Consumer Reports Electronics Editor Bree Fowler.
Consider using your phone’s data connection for sensitive transactions. That’s also safer than public Wifi for banking or shopping.
“It’s important to keep in mind that college databases have been hacked recently. Now while students can’t do much about that, they can take steps to limit the damage from data breaches whether on campus or elsewhere,” said Fowler.
Change passwords and check bank statements and credit cards for unauthorized charges.
Also, check with the credit reporting companies, Transunion, Experian and Equifax for unexplained debt. And if anyone has tried to open up credit in the student’s name inform the bureau that the attempt was fraudulent.
If you think your identity has been stolen consider also putting a temporary freeze on your credit. That’s done through the three credit reporting agencies.