Students urged to be cautious of identity theft, credit card breaches


Today many employers are paying their employees on a prepaid card that employees can take to an A.T.M. to withdraw their checks. With technology on the rise and the workforce beginning to move away from using paper checks, it could be easy to see how this could be a good choice. Most people are already using debit cards and having money directly deposited into their bank accounts, this seemed like a sure fire way to cut out the middle man. It unfortunately comes at a cost. 

Morgan Ball

With the recent credit card breaches of companies like Target and Neiman Marcus, the public is being urged to understand the importance of protecting their financial and personal information by being cautious with how they use their credit and debit cards.

Little changes to a bank statement or credit card bills may go unnoticed, but that might very well be a hack into your credit cards.

To watch for this, the Federal Trades Commission website said to save receipts for comparison with bills and monthly bank statements. It also said to never sign a blank receipt and to only sign the businesses copy.

Hacking and stolen identities is not something new, but today, it is a lot easier for hackers to copy and steal personal information from consumers than in the past.

“Younger generations embrace the cashless society,” said Doug Jacobson, a professor in electrical and computer engineering.

Computers play a huge role in credit card breaching because the Internet only uses numbers, and they do not require a signature. Gas stations are a prime center for the use of stolen cards, as well.

There are many ways to protect against credit card fraud and identity theft, according to the Federal Trades Commission website.

It said to always double check and make sure the companies online are legitimate businesses. By looking at the logos on emails and looking for locked locks on search bars, it is possible to check the authenticity of the message.

The website also said to carry credit and debit cards separate from wallets or purses in case of theft or misplacement, and to watch where the payment card goes at restaurants or commercial businesses, and to be sure to receive the card back. 

“Keep records of personal account numbers and do not lend your cards to anyone,” Jacobson said. “This will help to protect against lost or stolen cards. Make sure to shred old and used cards before tossing them in the trash, too.”

Victims need to cancel all cards and they need to double check everything to make sure charges are not against them that they did not make.

All cases are important, even if they seem minor. Credit card companies can send out new cards without a definite breach.

Kelly Smith, a research associate for the ISU veterinary diagnostics laboratory, received a new card from her credit card company.

“The letters stated they were sending new numbers and cards to everyone, just as a precaution or post-caution,” Smith said.

Smith also said the reissue of payment cards served as a cautious reminder.

“I’m a very relaxed person by nature, so I didn’t really freak out at all,” Smith said. “[Receiving a new credit card] mostly just reminded me how careful we need to be in the world we live in today. Everything is advancing so quickly, and unfortunately some people are taking advantage of that in some not-so-pleasant ways.”

Credit card breaching and identity theft are serious crimes that can be prevented with steps that can be made to protect personal information from being released.