Rutgers offers services to students scammer by identity thieves
College students are prime targets for identity thieves and scammers.
Americans between the ages of 20 and 29 accounted for 11 percent of the complaints regarding financial scams in 2015, according to the United States Federal Trade Commission. That same age range accounts for 14.04 percent of the U.S. population.
Rutgers University offers several student services with tips on how to prevent themselves from becoming victims, as well as how to file police reports if they do become victims.
Rutgers offers a service to students who have their identities stolen.
A service, called Identity Theft Assistance, is free to all students and facility members, according to according to University Human Resources (UHR) at Rutgers.
This service helps provide many services to students including assistance in filing police reports in the cases when identity theft is occurring, one year of fraud monitoring and many other services.
There are five main ways that scammers try to fool college students. These strategies include the bogus student tax, tuition scams, fake credit cards, false rental listings and friendly fraud, according to pix11.com.
Bogus student taxes involve IRS impersonators calling college students and demanding they pay a tax they supposedly owe, telling victims to wire the money or risk facing criminal charges.
Tuition scams are similar to student tax fraud. An impersonator will attempt to fool students into thinking that they owe money that they do not owe in reality. With this scam, the student receives alerts about late tuition payments and claims that the student will be dropped from all of their classes if a payment is not made.
Scammers also attempt to steal a student’s identity by encouraging them to sign up for fake credit cards.
Students often receive offers to sign up for pre-approved credit cards and may give their information to sketchy sources, which could potentially result in stolen identities.
Tim Flynn, a School of Art and Science junior, has had many "bogus" calls in the past, but usually he hangs up when he receives them.
False rental listings are typically targeted at out-of-state students attempting to secure housing online.
The student will send deposits and rent payments online to a supposed landlord who will then take the money and disappear.
Sometimes the scammers are victims' friends or family members.
Friendly fraud occurs when someone close to the victim looks through their private belongings when they are not at their residence hall and steals vital information from them. Students are advised to keep important information locked away and hidden to prevent themselves from becoming victims.
Nicholas Provenzano, a Rutgers School of Arts and Science junior, once had his credit card stolen.
“I checked my online banking and saw there were purchases that I did not make," he said. "I then had to call Bank of America to get those charges cancelled and they sent me a new card.”
Rutgers also offers identity theft prevention tips.
Students should check their credit reports at least twice a year to check for out of the ordinary fluctuations indicative of identity theft, according to University of Human Resources (UHR.)
A credit monitoring service is important for students. This is an independent third party that watches for any indications of possible cases of identity theft.
The UHR recommends that students routinely check personal records including Social Security and the Division of Motor Vehicles accounts.
Most importantly, students should not take lightly the threat of identity theft. Anyone with a bank account, driver’s license or social security number are potential targets.
Dylan Mullin, a Rutgers Arts and Sciences junior, said he had “no idea" identity theft was such an issue for college students.
"I better start checking my account balances more often," he said.
Daniel MacLane is a School of Arts of Sciences junior majoring in political science. He is a contributing writer at The Daily Targum.