Stop identity theft by protecting info

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By Edith Moctezuma

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Identity theft can happen to anyone anywhere and at any time, but the director of information technology at this college offers some tips for students to guard against it.

Usha Venkat said identity theft is when any personal information such as birth certificates or passports is stolen for unlawful gain affecting the victim financially or for getting government documents.

Venkat said identity theft has become prevalent because of the accessibility of information through online media.

Identity theft can happen by leaving personal information available or by simply giving a friend access to credit cards, she said.

Although she said extensive criminal enterprises specialize in this, many times identities get stolen from a friend or co-worker.

Some possible signs of identity theft are email surveys or phishing emails in which messages are sent from a fraudulent sender address. Prevention is the best deterrent from identity theft, she said.

Venkat recommends keeping personal documents locked up on campus, shredding personal information and using strong passwords.

Venkat said it also is important to not share personal information through emails, chats or blogs. She also advised shopping at reputable companies and to be discreet by not sharing home addresses or travel plans in social media.

When dealing with personal information, Venkat suggests doing so in private. She also warned students to never respond to emails asking for credit cards, passports or passwords. Immediately delete them, she said.

“Keep personal information private,” she said. “Do not share with anyone.”

In cases of identity theft in which credit card information is stolen, Venkat recommends immediately notifying the bank and the police.

If identity theft occurs through a college email account, students can call the support central help desk at 210-485-0555 and report the situation. Or they can call district police at 210-485-0911 or email abuse@alamo.edu.

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