When I learned recently that identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the U.S., I decided to visit the U.S. Department of Justice Web site to learn more.

I expected to see the usual: tips to reduce or minimize the risk of becoming an identity theft victim, and suggestions on what to do if such an unfortunate fraud were to actually happen.

What I didn’t expect was to read a bit of Shakespeare. Yet, there it was on the top of the fraud section home page, a line that the famous bard wrote in Act III, Scene 3 of Othello:

“But he that filches from me my good name,Robs me of that which not enriches him,And makes me poor indeed.”

Now perhaps there is some irony in William Shakespeare writing about identity theft, as there has been an ongoing debate, for centuries, as to who William Shakespeare really was, and how his writing persona came to be.

But enough about the most famous writer in the English language. The goal now is to help you in preventing a most heinous, yet silent, crime from being perpetrated on your student.

A good start is to visit that Department of Justice Web site and to click on the Identity Theft tab.

There you will find an easy way for you to remember to take pro-active steps to prevent you – or your student – from becoming a victim of identity theft. Think about, and commit to memory, the word “SCAM,” and treat it as an acronym. Then, attach these thoughts to each letter of the word:

For S: Be Stingy about giving personal info to others unless you trust them;
For C: Check on your personal information regularly;
For A: Ask periodically for a copy of your credit report; and
For M: Maintain careful records of your banking and financial accounts.

There is much more advice that is dispensed on the DOJ site, of course, and there are many more steps that College Parents of America suggests should be taken in order for you and your student to protect yourselves from identity theft.

Nevertheless, despite your best efforts and your student’s best intentions, identity theft does sometimes occur and unfortunately, such occurrences are all too frequent in the college context.

That’s why College Parents of America offers Identity Theft and Resolution Services as part of our Standard Membership offer.

To paraphrase Shakespeare:
“To be or not to be,A member of College Parents of America?That is the question.”