Everyone knows that identity thieves love to target students. They have limited borrowing history, and they are too caught up in school and work to catch the crime as it happens. But, they are not the only ones in the classroom that have to struggle with identity theft crimes. Professors are also getting victimized, and their often excellent credit makes them valuable targets.
There are many reasons why a professor’s job puts their identity in danger.
Don’t believe it? Here are FIVE quick examples!
- Information is available.
No investigation needed, every student knows a fair share about their professor. It’s not hard for a student to know their professor’s full name, date of birth, home address, and place of employment. While this might not be enough information to steal the professor’s identity, it’s still a great start. And, in the right hands, this information can still be pretty dangerous.
- Information is easy to get.
All an identity thief needs now is your social security number (SSN). Don’t count out a student from having the means to access your SSN. All it takes is stealing the right piece of mail from your mailbox. If the student knows where you live, they just need to make that effort during the tax filing season. This is when there is a big increase in the amount of mail containing confidential information. If the student gets this, stealing your identity is as easy as 1-2-3.
- Professors trust students too much.
Many professors have a passion for teaching, and this goes beyond the workplace. We have all seen at least one or two movies, where the “good teacher” makes the most of a bad situation. Whether it’s a student sleeping over, or just visiting for dinner, the dangers are still there. Any professor who lets a student enter their home is risking their identity, without even knowing it.
- Private property is within reach.
Professors often bring their personal laptops with them to work. If a student steals the professor’s computer, they can break in and gain access to all their personal files. This is not hard – especially if the professor runs a Windows operating system. The thief can use a program called Ophcrack to brute force the Windows user password. This allows them to access the files inside, without compromising anything. If there is personal identifying information, or if a keylogger gets installed to find it later on, then the professor could become a victim.
- It’s the perfect crime.
When a professor’s identity gets stolen, no one thinks to blame the students. Yet, most students know a fair share about their professors. If it’s just a matter of hunting that one last piece of the puzzle, eventually someone will take advantage of the opportunity. As most professors are also trusting and inviting to their students, a student could steal their identity without leaving a trail.
It’s a War Zone…No One Is Safe!
At Elite Personal Finance, we spend a lot of time educating college students on how to protect themselves from identity theft. We cannot emphasize enough that these horrible fraudsters are always up to no good. Few people take the time to think up all the creative ways to commit fraud, but they certainly do.
The problem with ignoring identity thieves is that you do not know how they will approach you. No matter how many walls you put up, there will always be at least one little crack in the foundation. If they can find that entry point, it’s just a matter of them knowing how to cash it out. If the victim is not an active credit report follower, the damage could become extensive before the crime gets noticed.
Identity protection services are what we suggest to everyone, and there’s a reason for that. If your walls come falling down, you will know why. With Credit Sesame’s free ID protection, and many great paid services, no one needs to feel the pain of identity theft. Sadly, many do not learn the value of these services until it’s too late.
Previous Cases of Identity Theft Against Professors
This is not the first time a professor’s identity has gotten stolen.
In fact, just last year over 50 staff members at the University of Northern Iowa got victimized. Their identities got stolen, and fraudulent tax returns got cashed in their name. Fast-forward to 2015, and the same university now claims around 400 of their employees got victimized in the same way. Yet, after investigating the matter, there is no clear evidence supporting how the attack started.
Ball State University suffered similar circumstances earlier this year. In April, reports showed that 140 of their employees fell victim to identity theft. This tax fraud technique got used, which allow the fraudsters to cash fraudulent tax returns in the names of the employees. Western Kentucky University also suffered this year, as around 80 staff members got victimized the same way.
Some other schools also report identity theft victims, but not to such a great extent. Still, this is just the damage caused in the past year. Identity theft goes on every single day, and the big security breaches are just becoming more common.
If there’s anything we can take away from this, it’s that you cannot ever assume that your identity is safe!