Identity Thieves Target College Students
Credit cards, debit cards, driver's licenses, student IDs and other forms of identification with the internet make students targets for identity theft. Photo by Emily Hoffmann.

Identity Thieves Target College Students

Having grown up accustomed to exchanging personal information over the web, many college students may not be aware they are being preyed on by scammers and hackers who are after their personal data and money.

Janis Borski, an administrative support technician at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s Information Security Office, explained that countless attempts are made every day to obtain personal information from students and staff.

She assures everyone that UWSP’s information security is top-notch, but insists user education and awareness is essential.

“It is teamwork,” Borski said. “It is your responsibility too.”

According to Borski, the most common and perhaps most successful way scammers are able to access student and staff information is through email phishing. A phishing email is meant to appear like a real email from an organization asking for personal information.

An inattentive user may believe the email is legitimate and provide the information, not knowing that they have given it to a scammer.

Victims of the scams often do not even know their information has been compromised until later. A freshman who has been phished may not notice something is wrong until they are a junior.

Senior Andrew Lockwood is familiar with phishing scams, but has never fallen for one. He is careful with his personal information and only gives it out to those he trusts. He also does not put his social security number on documents unless he knows they are official.

Lockwood said he gets a bit frustrated when required to change his password, but realizes it helps keep his information secure.

“It seems like it would be too much work for someone to try to steal something like my bank account,” Lockwood said. “Maybe they would go for someone with more money.”

Sophomore James McCroy admits he knows he is at risk of identity theft, but it is not something he thinks about on a daily basis. He attempts to make his account passwords complex and changes them often.

“I think it is more likely than people make it seem,” McCroy said.

Aside from awareness of potential scams and strong passwords, Borski suggests students run good antivirus software whenever they are using their devices. In addition, she suggests frequently checking one’s bank accounts for signs of unwarranted activity.

Avery Jehnke

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