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Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S. According to an October 2008 article in “Police Chief Magazine,” almost 30 percent of ID theft victims are between the ages of 18 and 29. Thieves tend to target young adults, so it’s up to you keep your clean credit report intact by securing your personal information while you’re in college.

5 Don’t Share Your Information

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No matter how much you trust your roommate or college friends, never give them your Social Security number, credit or debit card numbers or PIN numbers. While your friends may keep the information safe, you never know who they are around or how they’ll treat your sensitive data, especially if it’s written down.

4 Stop Credit Card Offers

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Pre-approved credit card offers give ID thieves a simple way to steal your identity and ruin your credit. The Federal Trade Commission says that you can ask the credit reporting bureaus—Experian, TransUnion and Equifax—to stop sharing your information with third parties by filling out an online form on the website www.OptOutPreScreen.com. Choose to permanently opt out of receiving credit card offers or to stop receiving them for five years.

3 Shred

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If your college’s mail or copy room doesn’t have one, invest in a crosscut paper shredder. Use the shredder when you receive credit card offers. If you get mail or paperwork that you don’t need, but have important account numbers on them, shred the papers. This paperwork can include bank statements, credit card bills, medical statements or the papers that come with prescriptions.

2 Keep Documents Safe

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Keep important documents in a safe place if you have to take them with you to school. These documents include your birth certificate, Social Security card, passport, health insurance card and anything with your Social Security number on it. Place these documents in a waterproof and fireproof safe in your dorm or rent a safe deposit box at a bank.

1 Use Security on Your Devices

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When you connect to the Internet on your college campus, the connection may not be as secure as you think. While it may be difficult for those who aren’t students to use the Wi-Fi, it may be a cinch for a current student to hack into your computer or other mobile devices. Safeguard your data by installing the latest virus and spyware programs onto all your devices that have Internet connection. Set up the programs so they automatically install updates. For an extra layer of protection, use a password to get onto your phone, tablet or computer.

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