Consumer Reports: How college students can avoid identity theft

Last year, nearly a third of reported identity theft involved credit cards, according to the Federal Trade Commission. College students can be especially vulnerable. Consumer Reports has important tips on keeping financial information safe on campus.

Criminals love public Wi-Fi because it may not be secure — potentially giving them access to your computer. For things like shopping or banking, it’s better to use private Wi-Fi that you access with a password. Consider using your phone’s data connection for sensitive transactions. That’s also safer than public Wi-Fi for banking or shopping.

It’s important to keep in mind that college databases have been hacked recently. Now while students can’t do much about that, they can take steps to limit the damage from data breaches whether on campus or elsewhere. Change passwords and check bank statements and credit cards for unauthorized charges.

Also check with the credit reporting companies, Transunion, Experian and Equifax for unexplained debt. If anyone has tried to open up credit in the student’s name, inform the bureau that the attempt was fraudulent.

If you think your identity has been stolen, consider also putting a temporary freeze on your credit. That’s done through the three credit reporting agencies.