Whether it’s your first fall on campus as a college freshman or you’re returning to campus as an upperclassman, college is an undeniably busy time where you’re juggling new information each semester. With the lists of books to rent or buy, lab courses to register for and activities to schedule, it’s all too easy to lose track of some of your information and end up the latest victim of identity theft.

Having your information slip into the wrong hands isn’t just an unpleasant occurrence, identity theft takes time to clean up – something you’re short on already, between classes, work and a busy social schedule. Here are just a few things to think about and keep in the back of your mind as opportunities pop up for you to enter your information on- or off-campus:

  • Password protect your computer and mobile devices. This one’s so obvious, right? You may trust friends and roommates, but there’s no way you can know everyone who might have access to your space.  Check these tips on setting up a strong password.
  • Keep important documents in a secured place. Don’t leave your social security card, passport, checkbook, account statements, or wallet laying around: keep important info secured in a collected spot so it’s not scattered around.
  • Don’t let others borrow your ID. Yes, parties happen. And, your ID may be needed in order to help make them happen. Just say no to sharing it with others.
  • Don’t share your passwords with anyone. It’s easier than ever to avoid handing out your password. Consider creating a guest account (or a guest wifi network, if your hub allows it) to keep their activity separate from your own.
  • Log out. Whether you’re at home or at a computer lab, when you’re finished, log out of any websites you’ve been using, and log off of the computer to make sure you end your browsing session and credentialed access.
  • Make sure your mail is forwarded appropriately. On-campus and off-campus moves happen: make sure you don’t drop the ball when it comes to postal activity. Keep things moving and Set up mail forwarding.
  • Shred it! Be sure to shred anything that has personal information on it. A trash bin is an identity thief’s treasure trove: this includes prescription labels or medical releases, paystubs from campus jobs, or any other potentially sensitive info you choose to let go of.

Keeping a close handle on your info isn’t easy now at this hectic time, but it’s great training for later. And it can be a real timesaver. Keeping your information in one of two places – safe in your files or completely destroyed – allows you the peace of mind to know your information is where it belongs. And that you won’t have to hunt down an identity thief later.

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