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Essence Magazine Article- Stopping Campus Identity Theft
Last Updated: 03/08/2016
Safe and Secure on Campus?
Protecting Against Identity Theft

Posted: SEPTEMBER 28, 2009 by Alexis Jeffries

With the start of the school year in full effect, most college students are nestled in their classrooms, libraries and dorms hard at work. And while they're studying, hackers and identity thieves are steadily trying to steal their information. With all pre-approved credit card offers college students get in the mail, it's no wonder they are so highly targeted. In fact, 34 percent of the identity theft victims in America last year were college students, according to Gregory Evans, a computer security consultant and founder of LIGATT Security (, spoke with about ways in which students can protect their personal and financial information this school year.

ESSENCE.COM: Why do you think data security and identity theft on college campuses has been an issue over the years?

GREGORY EVANS: Every hacker or identify thief in the world wants to target college kids. They don't have a lot of credit and they rarely check their credit reports to find out if their identity has been tampered with. Also, college campuses do not stress computer security nearly as much as they stress physical security and safety.

ESSENCE.COM: But when students go off to college, don't you think they buy protection software for their computers?

EVANS: When college kids get to school, they get a new laptop and assume they are protected because their computer has Norton Anti-virus software on it. Yes, your computer has Norton on it, but that is the trial version, and it only lasts 60 or 90 days before you must renew your subscription.

ESSENCE.COM: What are some of the more common ways that identity theft occurs on campuses?

EVANS: One common example is Internet cafés. A hacker can go to a café and install Spyware on the computers there, and when you log on to a café's computers, they can hack your information. As a rule of thumb, students shouldn't use public machines for personal use (like checking bank accounts or even e-mail) because hackers can access all of your personal information. When in doubt, bring your own computer and make sure the firewall is high when you connect to a public wireless network.

ESSENCE.COM: Then, how should students protect themselves from hackers and identity thieves?

EVANS: Buy a security cable for $20 or less and lock down your computer to your desk or bed whenever you leave it unattended. The cable helps because it's a deterrent, so campus thieves will likely skip your computer and move on. Also, use passwords on your laptop. You should always put it in a state where it will lock if you are away from it for more than 15 minutes. Lastly, put some sort of engraving on your computer just by using a pocketknife, so that yours can be easily identified.

Alexis Jeffries is a staff reporter at Money magazine.

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