Liz Brandon of Oklahoma Money Matters taught students about the importance of protecting their identity on Oct. 25.
Brandon started by saying anytime someone uses any part of an individual’s personal information as their own, they are committing fraud. She said fraud is a rising epidemic.
“[Fraud] is the fastest rising crime with nearly nine to 10 million cases,” she said. “College students make up the largest demographic, at nearly 34 percent of people affected in the crime.”
Brandon said factors contributing to high rates of identity theft among college students include unsecure dorm rooms, and the demand and portability of laptops.
“A large amount of personal information is kept on laptops,” Brandon said.
“One is stolen every 12 seconds.”
Several students in the group said they knew people who had been affected by fraud issues, and wanted some tips to keep their belongings and identities safe.
Brandon said to keep up to 10 years’ worth of documents organized and in folders, so if information goes missing you will be aware.
“Also, another way to be safe is to keep documents, even your Social Security card, in a safe,” she said. “[Safes] cost between $30 to $50 at WalMart.”
In addition, Brandon said, students should use caution when dealing with items such as junk mail, as they can contain personal information.
“Everyone should cross-shred these documents, (as) opposed to just throwing them away,” Brandon said.
“Also, to stop the junk mail, people may call 888-567-8688. They will [then] be asked to complete a two-step process.”
She said students can go as far as to set their Facebook profiles to private, but still should not include critical pieces of information.
“People should still check their credit report to catch any unusual activity, so they can stop the problem before it progresses,” Brandon said.
For more information on identity theft, visit www.idtheftcenter.org.