Thwarting ID Thieves

How colleges can avoid identity theft and fraud

What most colleges and universities aren't doing to avoid identity theft and fraud--but should be.

American colleges and universities are breeding grounds for innovative ideas and open information sharing. Pair that with a large number of systems on a given network and a vulnerable student population with fresh credit and you've got an appealing target for identity thieves.

"In my opinion, the college and university crowd is probably at the highest risk of any age population," says John Sileo, an identity theft expert and speaker and founder of The Sileo Group. His reasoning? Students are just coming into their own in terms of having credit, and colleges and universities host "incredibly private" information, like social security numbers and financial records.

Despite the need for awareness, Sileo says, institutions of higher education are generally not his main audience because, "unfortunately, a lot of the universities aren't there yet. The progressive universities are there; they understand that information is power and that these students are being raised in a world where the main currency now is information. So it's relatively easy to work for those types of universities that get that. It's more difficult to get engagements with universities who still sort of have their heads in the sand."