Students, as consumers, often place personal identification information, such as their social security and drivers license numbers, into the public forum. Thieves who specialize in identity theft search trash bins, Internet databases, and other public places where personal information may be discarded. Many brazenly send emails soliciting personal information to consumers under the guise of security alerts bearing the logo of commercial institutions and banks. Once in possession of a name associated with a social security number and/or license, the thief can open credit card accounts and obtain new identification, which bears the thief’s photograph and new address. As a consequence, the student is not aware that their identify has been stolen until well after large debt and/or criminal activity has been carried on in the student’s name. Some examples of identity theft problems encountered by UNC-CH students:
Family member scam
Mom, Dad, and/or sibling often obtain access to student credit card information without the knowledge and permission of the student. They have a new billing address added to the account and the student is unaware of damage being done to his or her credit record.
Driver’s license scam
Student, not so innocently, loans his or her drivers license to a friend to use to purchase beer or alcohol. “Friend” gets pulled over by the police and shows the other student’s drivers license. A ticket is issued to the license identified, not the real driver committing the offense. No one appears at the trial date and the innocent student is convicted of the offense and a warrant is issued for failure to appear in court.
Stolen ID cards
Students are victims of stolen IDs and the consequences are drastic. Criminals can buy cars, open lines of credit and otherwise enjoy a free ride as Joe Tarheel. There are important websites that provide assistance and advice on what steps to take to prevent id theft and what to do if your identity has already been stolen.
What to do?
- Check your credit report regularly. Consumers in North Carolina can get free copies of their credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Contact CSLS,Inc. to get an attorney to help you prepare affidavits and deal with collection agencies.
- Be knowledgeable about identity theft and the resources available to you if you are a victim at www.idtheftcenter.org and www.consumer.gov.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission .