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Keep your Privates Private: Identity Theft Across Campus

“I accidently placed my mobile number on my Facebook profile page, thinking it could only be seen by my friends and family. I used to get texts from random people and events that I didn’t know about and as a result I had to contact the network provider and ask them to block these numbers”
Emily Stone, Nottingham University.

The issue of identity theft is something that all of us as students have to take seriously. The increased popularity of Facebook has caused a huge increase in identity theft amongst student populations mainly because of our willingness to post such personal information on such an impersonal place!!

Keep your privates private!!!

The Information Commissioner’s Office has produced specific advice for us on how to take control of our personal information; urging people to think before giving it away, read small print and ask organisations what personal information will be used for. By safeguarding your personal details it will help lower the risk of falling victim to identity fraud. The ICO has employed student ambassadors across the country to raise awareness of information rights– look out for Varun around campus!

“I forgot to change my address from my previous bank statements to my new mailing address and as a result my information was sent to abroad and money was removed from my account without realising. The bank contacted me and reminded me about the severity of not changing my details as soon as I am aware of them.” Source: Rishi Taylor, Nottingham University Student

It is not just the issues associated with Facebook that we have to consider. Often us students will move out of Uni accommodation at the end of the first year and then into private accommodation in the second year. We then forget to tell the bank to stop sending our mail to this address once we have left University!!! Vital bank statements are at the mercy of the new residents!

The ICO’s top tips for students on protecting personal information:

– Always be wary of those asking for your personal information. Are they genuine? How will they use it? Will it be passed on to others? If they are not familiar to you or you are unsure of who they are, ask to ring them back on the advertised number
– Store any documents carrying personal information, such as your driving licence, passport and bank statements, in a safe and secure place
– Always read the small print carefully. You must give permission for your details to be passed on to other organisations or used for marketing purposes, and equally, you can refuse
– Use different passwords and PINs for different accounts and take extra care when using public computers to access personal information
– Shred or destroy your personal documents, (such as bank statements, utility bills, debit or credit card transaction receipts etc.), so that nothing showing your name, address or other details can be stolen
– Check your bank and credit card statements regularly for any unfamiliar transactions on your account. You can also obtain copies of your credit file to check for any suspicious activity
– Just say no – you have the legal right to ask a particular company to stop contacting you and they have an obligation to mark your telephone number as one they can not call
– When you move house, make sure you update your bank, mobile phone provider and energy providers with your new address – you don’t want the new tenants to have access to letters containing your personal information
– Think about the type of information you are uploading to your social networking profile pages – details such as your address and date of birth can be used by fraudsters. You can control who sees your profile by adjusting the privacy settings

In addition to the tips, a free guide – the ICO’s Personal Information Toolkit – is available to help students protect and manage their personal information. The toolkit includes advice and tips on how to access the information that organisations hold about you, how to correct inaccurate information and how to reduce unwanted marketing calls and texts. The personal information toolkit is available by calling 08453 091091 or at www.ico.gov.uk.

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One Comment
  • Vanessa Anne Esi Brown
    26 November 2008 at 18:07
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    Very important about the moving out and not changing address thing. I live in Broadgate and we’ve had people’s new bank cards sent to our address and payslips and stuff. Luckily for these people my flat consists of honest people so we cut up the bank card and sent the payslips back. Not everyone is as nice and I don’t know how they leave such things to chance. It’s nearly the end of the 1st semester and we still get random letters.

    Vanessa.

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