It may seem hard to believe, but summer’s almost over and the new school year is already here. While students prepare for the upcoming term by stocking up on supplies and scrambling to finish their summer reading assignments, there’s someone else who’s excited by the new school year: scammers and identity thieves.
No matter what grade you’re in–from preschool to Ph.D. candidate, the education sphere has a pretty bad track record of securing your data. Data breaches from university levels down to local elementary schools have exposed countless victims’ records. While hackers target universities with sophisticated viral attacks, one public school in Florida was hit by an organized data theft by none other than their own cafeteria ladies, who managed to nab the personal identifiable information for several hundreds of the school’s students.
It might seem counterintuitive to try to commit fraud against school children or university students; after all, most of them have nothing to call their own, except possibly a lot of student loan debt. But the problem at hand is that students’ identities are very valuable. Minors’ identities are a “clean slate” as far as spending and debt are concerned, and most students don’t check their credit reports regularly because they’re simply not using them for multiple credit cards, car loans, home loans, or other large-scale expenses.
There are some ways that students can fight back against scams and secure their data, especially their digital data. Numerous studies have shown that far too many people don’t use antivirus or other malicious software prevention tools in their tech. At the same time, too many people (of any age) aren’t securing their hardware with pass-codes and passwords. Of course, not too many young people spend their evenings reading up on the latest internet scams or viruses, which is why they’re easily hit by these tactics when tech scams crop up.
By staying informed, safeguarding your data, and putting protections like antivirus and credit report alerts in place, you can do a lot to prevent the theft of your funds or identity.