Identity Theft Prevention
Identity theft can happen to any of us. All it takes is someone using our private information for purchases or other inappropriate activities, so here are some steps we can take to protect ourselves:
- Social security cards are much safer at home. This way, they are less likely to be lost or stolen.
- It’s good to be aware of your surroundings when using a personal identification number (PIN) at the bank or store, in case someone is trying to steal your password or PIN.
- It’s also good to monitor your credit and banking information for any unauthorized activity.
- When emailing or calling an unfamiliar person, keep your private information private. To see if online businesses are safe, try checking this site: necal.bbb.org
- Sometimes, unfamiliar people send viruses or hack into our computers via email, so it’s important only to open links from trusted contacts. Up-to-date firewall software is another useful form of protection.
Here are some helpful suggestions from the Better Business Bureau:
- Our smart phones are more protected from viruses and hackers when updated regularly; passwords for our home screens help with this, too.
- Parents’ emails might be safer than our student ones, so really sensitive account or other personal information could be sent through their email accounts as an added protection.
- For hard copy documents like bank statements or social security cards/Visas, try renting an on-campus safe box, and use a paper-shredding machine to permanently dispose of sensitive documents that are no longer needed. Another option is to request paperless bank statements and credit card bills.
- It’s safest for you if no one else uses your credit or bank cards, even if they are friends or family.
What if you think someone has already stolen your identity?
Try these three suggestions from the California Student Aid Commissioner:
- Contact the fraud departments of these three major credit bureaus:
- Call the credit card companies and bank(s) for the accounts that might have been compromised. They will help close those accounts so you’re protected, and they will begin their own investigation.
- Let our local law enforcement officials help. Tell them your concerns.
What if the theft occurred on campus or involves school-related personal information?
Speak with the Campus Police at (626) 585-7486, or visit the Campus Police station (B-210). Officers are eager to help, so feel free to stop by!
If someone is pretending to be part of our financial aid office or part of the California Student Aid Commission, it’s best to contact those offices directly with the caller’s information and/or the company they claim to represent, as well as a list of what information the caller tried to get from you.
- The financial aid office: 626-585-7401 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The California Student Aid Commission: 888-CA-GRANT (888-224-7268) or email: email@example.com.
Use these web sites to get additional helpful ideas to keep you protected:
- California Student Aid Commission
- Federal Trade Commission
- Social Security Administration