Are your college-aged children heading off for a beach vacation during the upcoming spring break? If you aren’t already worried about what sort of trouble they could get into, add this to the list: identity theft.
Over the years, as millions of undergrads have made their annual pilgrimages away from the dorms and toward sunny shores, identity thieves have come to view them as prime targets. They know that college students are less experienced financially and less focused on personal security. By stealing the right pieces of information, thieves can make a student’s remaining college years — and post-graduate life — difficult.
Here are some common tactics:
- Fraudulent travel sites. Today’s college students practically live online, and it stands to reason that this is how they will plan their spring break trips. Unfortunately, thieves know this too. The internet is littered with fraudulent websites offering fake trips and misleading package deals. Students may find themselves paying much more for their trip than they expect, thanks to hidden fees. They might not even get to go on a trip at all. Instead, they may accidentally hand over their credit card information to someone trying to scam them.
- Public wi-fi. If they’re gone for long enough, students are going to want to check the internet while on spring break. But while public wi-fi is convenient, it can present serious security risks. Whether at the hotel or at another establishment, using public wi-fi without checking to see if it is secure can expose important data.
- Theft. Sometimes, the simplest threat is the most concerning one. A stolen purse or wallet will likely have more than enough information to allow a thief to steal a student’s identity. During a particularly rowdy spring break vacation, victims may not realize that they have been robbed for some time.
Spring break can be fun, but it’s important to be cautious. Students should work with reputable travel companies and get the details of all their arrangements down in writing. They should be careful about who they interact with while on the trip, and they should keep a close eye on their personal belongings.
How to protect students on break
For the most part, college students are still getting used to the idea of financial independence, much less monitoring their own credit. This is one area where parents can help.
And Identity Guard can help too! Identity Guard's identity theft protection service monitors credit files, Social Security Numbers and public records, and can alert you to certain activity that could indicate fraud.