Preventing identity theft at Texas Tech

Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 12:11 am

Preventing identity theft at Texas Tech

By Kaylin McDermett

Staff Writer

Daily Toreador – Dept. of Student Media, Texas Tech University


Identity theft is a growing crime throughout the U.S., and students at Texas Tech fall into the most targeted group of people.

Identity theft is defined as the unauthorized use or attempted misuse of an existing credit card or other credit account, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. On average, more than 11 million people in the U.S. are victims of identity theft annually with the annual losses per person averaging up to $5,000.

Officer Juan Trejo with the Tech Police Department said theft is the number one crime reported on campus, with thieves targeting everything from bicycles to ID cards.

“The main things we see being stolen are big items such as bicycles and laptops, but wallets and ID cards are being stolen as well,” he said. “Theft is something we see a whole lot of here.”

Identity theft can happen to anyone, but the number one target are people ages 18-24, particularly college students. Students make prime targets for theft due to their inexperience with personal financial information and the large amount of time spent on the Internet daily, according to handouts from the IT Division on campus.

Fraud is not always the physical theft of an ID or credit card. “Friendly Fraud” occurs when fraud is perpetrated by people known to the victim who have easy access to shared devices, such as roommates or friends.

This type of theft is common amongst college students who post too much personal information on the web, shop online or pay bills, according to the handout.

Theft among college students is also prevalent during times of travel.

Students traveling for spring break or planning to study abroad need to be aware of thieves targeting their information all over the world. Tourists make easy targets because they are not familiar with their surroundings or are too busy taking in sights and sounds to notice a pickpocket reaching for their wallet.

Selina Vaughan, a freshman psychology major from San Antonio, said she was a victim of theft while traveling overseas.

“After returning home from Europe, I saw an odd withdrawal in Dublin for 200 euros,” she said. “I called my bank and had to get a new card and file a claim with them. It taught me to be careful where I withdrew money and to monitor my account more closely, especially while traveling.”

To avoid theft, students should be aware of how they store and share information. Important paper documents should be securely stored, especially those with personal information such as social security or credit card numbers. Monthly billing statements from credit or debit cards should also be reviewed carefully to watch for signs of unauthorized spending, according to the handout.

Trejo said all types of theft should be reported to the campus police department in order to open an investigation into the crime. Students should also be aware of how to prevent their information and belongings from being stolen.

“We investigate all reports of theft,” he said. “There are three aspects to the crime: desire, ability and opportunity. Someone has to have the desire and the ability to commit the crime, but we give them the opportunity. If you take opportunity out of the equation, then the crime cannot happen. It only takes a second for someone to steal something. Always be aware of what you’re doing.”


Tuesday, February 18, 2014 12:11 am.

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