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Routine things we do every day put us at risk of identity theft. Students are often especially vulnerable because their personal information is more available and they may not be as aware of the need to protect it. Below are some things you can do to protect your credit, your name, and your financial future. More resources are available below.
Often in the wake of a breach, affected customers will be offered a credit monitoring service. As you review the services of Equifax or other service providers, read the terms very closely to determine whether they are appropriate for your individual needs.
One way to find out whether it's required: Ask! In many cases where the Social Security number is requested routinely, you can avoid providing it if you're willing to pay a refundable deposit. Note that ASU is required to gather and report certain personal information for students and employees.
If you've been affiliated with the University for several years, your Campus ID number may be your Social Security number. See students.asu.edu/your-asu-ids for information on changing it.
Don't do it from public computers if you can avoid it. Watch Web addresses carefully. Type addresses by hand instead of clicking on links in email messages. Keep your computer protected with regular system updates, a firewall, and current antivirus software. Don't store personal information on your computer or in your email if you don't have to. Consider purchasing a preloaded debit card or gift card/certificate to use for online purchases, instead of using your personal credit or debit card.
Better yet, opt out from unwanted offers online at https://www.optoutprescreen.com/?rf=t
Watch for unexplained transactions, even very small ones, and resolve them with your bank as soon as possible.
You're entitled to a free annual credit report by law. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the only authorized source for your free annual credit report is http://www.annualcreditreport.com. See this link for further details.
An additional step you can take to protect yourself from identity theft is to restrict access to your credit report. Also known as a credit freeze, this tool will let you restrict anyone from requesting your credit report, which in turn makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. The reason this helps is because most creditors will ask to see your credit report before they approve a new account or issue you a line of credit. If they can’t see your file, they may not extend the credit. For more information about how to initiate a credit freeze, please click here.
This site provides a wide range of basic information about identity fraud.
This is the main U.S. government site for identity theft information. You can also file an online report of identity theft.
Help Line: (602) 542-2145
The Attorney General’s office offers an Identity Theft Repair Kit and maintains a Help Line for victims of identity theft.
This electronic fact sheet describes identity theft and links to other useful publications.
Fraud hotline: (800) 269-0271
This automated hotline provides answers to questions about identity theft in both English and Spanish, and you may speak to a representative in person.
Students can learn how to protect themselves against identity theft at this site for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General.
This nonprofit organization provides consumer alerts, scam warnings and instructions for victims of identity theft.
This nonprofit consumer information and advocacy organization offers fact sheets about privacy issues and identity theft.
Top tips every taxpayer should know about identity theft.
Contact any of the following credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert on your consumer credit file and to order a free copy of your credit report. You need only contact one of these agencies, which will automatically forward the fraud alert to the other two.