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7 Tips to Help College Students Avoid Identity Theft

Jun 10, 2021


College students are five times more likely to be a victim of identity theft than the general public (Financial Times Press) and when you know the reason, it makes perfect sense. They live in close proximity to one another and many don’t take enough precautions to protect themselves. Here are the places students are most vulnerable and what can be done to help.

Dorm Rooms

People come and go in dorm rooms and it can be hard to protect private papers and items. Lock away credit card statements and personal papers. And don’t throw information that has your bank or social security number, etc. in the trash where it can be easily retrieved.


The fix here is easy. To protect the data on a smartphone, use a proper password and add security software.

Free Music and Games

Sometimes free music and game downloads have keystroke logging malware that the student unwittingly downloads with the music or game. Here’s an article from the FTC on how to avoid malware.


We can all be careless with passwords, using the same one over and over. Encourage your college student to update passwords regularly (experts recommend every three months). The best passwords contain a long mix of small letters, capital letters, numbers, and symbols.

Security Questions

It’s important the student uses information not available on Facebook or elsewhere. (No pet’s name, birthdate, high school, or favorite team, for example).


College students often use Wi-Fi in coffee houses, malls, and other public places where identity thieves can set up Wi-Fi to gather personal information on their victims’ devices if they’re not equipped with security software. Remind them to keep that security and anti-malware software current.

Credit Cards

When purchasing things online, students may leave their credit cards on file for convenience. Don’t choose to do this. If the company is hacked and the card is on file, identity theft is a possibility.

For more tips on how to keep the entire family safe from fraud, visit our security center. If you have specific concerns you’d like to discuss with us, email our fraud team at, or log in to your RCU account to send a secure message.


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