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Applying to Colleges? How to Keep Your Teen’s Identity Safe

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It’s tough to believe that college is right around the corner. It seems like it was just yesterday that you were sleep-deprived by middle-of-the-night feedings and teaching him how to ride a bike, and now suddenly he’s about to graduate high school. With college applications come a whole new set of challenges: deadlines, the fear (and reality) of rejection, acceptance letters and huge life decisions. They also involve exchanging a whole lot of personal information! Here are some ways to safeguard your info:

Protect Your Computer

Simple antivirus software and firewall protection is essential to prevent an external attack on your computer that could cull all of your personal information, private data and credit card information in one fell swoop. While the latest versions of Windows tout built-in security measures and extensive protection, that isn’t enough when you take into consideration how many programs you regularly use that have access to your network. Built-in antivirus protection can prevent an outside attack, but isn’t effective at preventing one through a program that also has access to your network. For this reason, built-in protection and standalone security suites are not really even competing with one another. Both offer vastly different levels of protection. For affordable and effective options, PC Mag lists recommendations here — these include Norton Internet Security ($48.98) and Bitdefender Total Security ($69.95).

Mix Up Those Passwords

With nearly every website you frequent requiring its own online account, it’s tempting to use the same login credentials for every account. However, doing so makes you an easy (and potentially lucrative) target for hackers. Instead, encourage your teen to use unique variations of his username and password for all online accounts, especially new accounts created for online college applications. To keep track of all online credentials, keep a handwritten record of each account username and password in a secure place such as a safe.

Keep Social Security Cards in a Safe Place

Encourage your child to memorize his Social Security number instead of carrying around the card. Given a teen’s propensity to misplace things or worse, lose them, keeping all family members’ Social Security cards in a safe place in essential. A fireproof safe secured to the floor is an ideal option, otherwise a safe deposit box at your bank is another secure option.

Leave It to the Professionals

While due diligence and a watchful eye can go a long way in keeping identity theft predators at bay, it’s not a foolproof solution. Massive security breaches at retailers are becoming more and more commonplace, so if you shop online or use your debit or credit card when shopping, your family could still be at risk. You could drive yourself crazy trying to protect your child from identity theft all on your own, so professional monitoring for identity theft is an efficient and effective way to ensure that your child’s identity remains his own. Identity theft monitoring services use refined systems to oversee all transactions matched to clients, watching for red flags and catching any suspicious activity before it can cause extensive damage.