Jul 22, 2019

Identity theft poses as a risk to some students

Michael Uribes/The Collegian

The consistent modernization and sophistication of the Internet, as well as general technology, can be paired with the refinement of different types of identity theft. Identity theft is becoming a concern among some college students.

Consumers have become increasingly uninhibited with their personal information and feel comfortable entering it into websites, such as social networking sites.

Similar to the willingness to share information on social networking is the level of complacency with smart phones and online shopping. The youngest generation of consumers no longer thinks twice about entering their personal information when purchasing items online or checking their bank accounts.

“Online banking is safe to use if you make sure you never share your password with anyone and log off when you finish your session,” Justin Witte, assistant branch manager of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria Compass Bank of Fresno, said

Consumers should be wary of the ways hackers and scam artists have evolved and the lengths that they will go to in order to obtain another individual’s information.

“Remember that your bank or credit union will never send you an e-mail asking for personal information,” Witte said.

Websites such as PayPal can help ensure safety when shopping on lesser-known websites, and will only share the minimal information necessary while shopping.

Consumers can also protect themselves by only entering their information into well-trusted and secure sites.

Additionally, banks have developed programs that will help protect their cardholders from fraudulent charges. Regardless of the banks’ efforts to help, it is essential that consumers frequently double-check the use of their debit and credit cards to ensure that no one else is making additional charges.

Business major Derek Worman said his credit card number was compromised last spring and he has since begun to pay close attention to his monthly statements.

“I make sure to check my bank status online a lot more,” Worman said.

Attention should be given not only to monthly statements, but also to any e-mails received by banks and similar websites regarding passwords being reset or security questions being asked. Consumers are likely to use the same passwords for most if not all accounts, making it easier to hack into multiple accounts.

The usage of usernames for websites has continued to advance and have become available to the public. Memberships with specific sites allow consumers to have distinct usernames to share with friends. The usernames are directly linked to personal information, making them more identifiable and searchable.

The Vienna University of Technology in Austria conducted a study using a business-oriented network based in Germany collecting data on 6,500 groups, totaling 1.8 million users. After analyzing an overlap between the membership lists, it was determined that roughly 42 percent of users were personally identifiable by the groups they visited.

“Social networking sites are really dangerous in terms of putting your information out there,” Greg Wiles, the Fresno Treasury Officer, said.

Information including, but not limited to, your current whereabouts, address and phone number should be kept private. The more personal information that is made publicly available to others, the easier it is for your bank accounts to be jeopardized.

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