Basic preventative measures can make sure student identities are safe
Issue date: 2/1/08 Section: Campus Eye
According to Anandarajan, education and awareness are the most important things for college students as far as identity theft crimes are concerned.
"What I find is that there are two types of attitudes that people have. Either they feel that the whole situation is overblown, and take an 'it wouldn't happen to me' attitude, which I call maladaptive coping, or there are those who take proactive measures, like updating their virus protection software, or updating their spyware, or putting tough passwords in programs," Anandarajan said.
College students often fail to take basic preventative measures, despite being "more computer literate, as opposed to older folk," Anandarajan said.
Robert D'Ovidio, an assistant professor of culture and communication at Drexel, said that there are very simple steps toward preventing identity theft crimes. Students should secure personal documents, such as social security cards, and avoid paper-based invoices for credit card bills and statements.
When making online purchases, students should be wary of the sites they are frequenting, according to D'Ovidio.
"Do a little research online; type their name into Google," D'Ovidio said.
A healthy fear of identity theft is necessary for students, according to Anandarajan.
"People who are vulnerable, it leads to fear. When they are fearful, they take adaptive coping measures," Anandarajan said. "There are people who feel fearful but don't think it'll happen to them, and it's a longitudinal study, but the people who felt that something was going to happen took proactive measures."
Anandarajan said that students should use the hardware, software and information available to them to prevent themselves from falling victim to identity theft crimes.
"It should become second nature to all of us-just because we don't see anybody, it doesn't mean nobody's entering our homes. They are-through the internet. So we need to take appropriate measures," Anandarajan said. "We sit at home, lock the doors and windows, and we put on an alarm and think we're safe, but the computer's bringing a lot of people in."
D'Ovidio said that though there are certain limitations to how much students can protect themselves, everyone still has some level of control.
"You have indirect control in that you can pick the doctors you go to, the merchants that you patronize," D'Ovidio said.
Students are advised to use basic safety measures and precautions to prevent their identities from being stolen.