Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

Nearly a third of all identity theft happens to college students and young adults, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. College students now complete college with record amounts of debt, but those who have been victimized by identity theft often leave campus with thousands and thousands of dollars of unauthorized debt and a poor credit score, in addition to any legitimate student loans that they have taken out. Before giving your child the big send off, make sure that you give them the tools that they need to protect themselves from identity theft.

Financial Education

Until your student understands basic finances, they will not be able to adequately understand the threat of identity theft. College bound students should understand the ins and outs of credit scores, bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial products. When they understand how to open an account themselves, they will simultaneously understand how a criminal could also open an account in their name.

This awareness will help to make your young students more careful, according to Organizations like the National Endowment for Financial Education offer free financial educational resources for college students, and they have materials for younger students as well if you want to get a head start on educating your other children.


A lost wallet contains enough information for someone to easily steal your young student’s identity. A clever thief can use your child’s ID when getting picked up for a speeding ticket, they can run the credit cards at area stores, and they can even apply for new accounts, using information found in the wallet. Tile, the app available from, can help your child find their misplaced wallet before it gets into the wrong hands.

Tiles are available for $19.95 each, and to work, they simply need to be affixed to the back of a wallet. When activated, the Tile app triggers an alert sound in the missing tile, allowing your student to track their wallet as long as they are within hearing distance of it. Tiles can also be attached to other easily lost items like bikes and keys.

Identity Theft Protection

Services like LifeLock monitor and protect your student’s identity. The service alerts students when accounts have been opened or credit inquiries have been made in their name. Having access to 24/7 alerts makes it easy for students to respond to identity theft immediately. When consumers take months to detect identity theft, it can take them months or even years to undo the damage.

Lemon Wallet

A LifeLock product, Lemon Wallet, is a virtual backup wallet. This free app is available for Android and iOS devices. If your student loses their wallet, this app gives them the numbers that they need to quickly cancel all of their accounts. The app can also be linked to services that provide the user with real time account balances and fraud alerts, according to

Commonsense Tips

In addition to the apps and services recommended above, give your student a few commonsense tips before setting them loose on campus. Remind them not to carry their social security card and their ID in the same wallet. Together these documents give a thief way too much power. Tell them to put outgoing snail mail in secured mail boxes rather than unsecured boxes in the dorms, and give them a few tips on identifying phishing emails or scams as well.