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So, you may be wondering … How can I keep from becoming a victim of Identity Theft?

Keeping yourself safe from identity thieves, in large part, is common sense. Knowledge is power … and knowing a few helpful tips can go a long way.

Just remember to stay SECURE:

S: Be stingy in who you give your personal information. Don’t trust anyone who asks for your personal information that you do not know or who has no business looking for it!

The University of South Carolina currently uses social security numbers as student identifiers but will soon discard the use of this with the implementation of OneCarolina . However, social security numbers will still be kept in confidential and personal records. The University will never ask for your social security number or other sensitive data in an e-mail.

E: Educate yourself about the dangers of phishing and other forms of identity theft. This Web site is a good place to start, but there are other good resources to use.  Click on the Links & Resources section for more information.
C: Check your financial information regularly. You should receive monthly statements with your transactions. If you’re not receiving these or are seeing transactions you do not recognize, immediately call your financial institution or credit card company. If you are told your financial statements are being sent to another address, this may be a sign that your information may be compromised and let the company know this immediately. You should keep your financial statements in a safe and secure place for at least one year, if not more.
U: Use extreme caution.  Always use anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on your computer. The University of South Carolina provides anti-virus/anti-spyware software for students, faculty and staff. To download these programs, please visit VIP (https://vip.sc.edu/). In addition, many operating systems and Internet Service Providers offer firewall protection for their customers. Also, don’t click on Web links in e-mails that you do not recognize. Many times, thieves will disguise Web sites that look official and request your personal information. Some sites may contain worms and viruses as well that could infect your computer!
R: Request copies of your financial statements, credit reports and other forms of financial transactions to make sure no one is using your information fraudulently. These reports should list all of your bank and financial accounts under your name and will provide an indication that someone is accessing your information.
E: Encrypt your information! Use strong passwords that are not found in the dictionary, are at least 6 characters and contain numbers, letters and symbols. Make sure that no one has access to your online information except for you. Keeping your personal and sensitive information hidden will make it very difficult for hackers or identity thieves to steal your information. Please click here to find out more about strong passwords.

Other tips to use:

Don’t reply to e-mail if you have a question or are suspicious about the sender. Instead, call the toll-free number listed on the alleged sender’s Web site to confirm the e-mail validity.
If you see a suspicious hyperlink in an e-mail message, don’t click on it. If the e-mail looks valid and if it is a company you recognize, try manually typing in the Web address of the company and check that against the URL that is provided in the suspicious e-mail.
Back-up important files to a secure location. If information on your hard drive is compromised and you do not have a back-up, recovery of the information will be very difficult.
Know who to contact if your information is stolen. There are a number of contacts in this site located within the Links and Resources section. You should also contact your Internet Service Provider if your hard drive with personal information is compromised.
Shred your personal information! If you don’t have a shredder or access to one, invest in one TODAY! Just throwing away old bank and financial statements could lead to identity theft. Someone could go through your garbage for these records and steal your information. It is good practice to shred anything that has your personal and financial information. This also includes credit card “pre-approval” letters in the mail. Be sure to shred this information so someone doesn’t retrieve the information and apply for a card in your name.
Be very careful about providing information about yourself online. There are many sites that request information, especially anything dealing with eCommerce. Make sure it is a secure site (you will notice https:// in the URL and a lock at the bottom of the screen.)
If identity theft occurs, immediately notify all financial and banking institutions and put a ‘fraud’ alert on all of your information.