Students learn how to protect themselves from identity theft

Lauren Pedretti, Community Outreach/Financial Literacy Specialist at Quincy Credit Union, spoke to seniors in Personal Finance classes.

Lauren Pedretti, Community Outreach/Financial Literacy Specialist at Quincy Credit Union, spoke to seniors in Personal Finance classes.

Identity theft is real, but preventable! 
That was the message that Lauren Pedretti, Community Outreach/Financial Literacy Specialist at Quincy Credit Union, recently told seniors in Personal Finance classes.

“When in doubt, don’t fill it out,” Pedretti advised the students about bogus forms that serve to gather personal information such as social security numbers. “Beware of weird emails. Stop and think about the source of the message. If you’re unsure about it, don’t click automatically, don’t click blindly.” 

More than 15 million consumers lost more than $16 billion to identity theft in 2016, and millions of computers were hacked, allowing law-breakers to access personal information.

The students appreciated Pedretti’s insights. “We learned a lot about how to manage our own money,” said Jamie Herrick. “Now that I’m 18 years old, I have to be aware of identity fraud and ways to prevent it. It’s important to look carefully at your accounts to be sure they are OK.”

Classmate Sean LaVallee said he will be more vigilant with his financial information. “I learned that it is not just your social security number that you have to protect, but your credit card information too. It’s amazing that hackers can put devices on ATM’s and steal your info when you swipe your card, and that emails that look like regular emails are phishing emails. I know now that I shouldn’t give any personal information without really knowing the source.”

With technology changing so rapidly and with more and more people of all ages having access to it, Pedretti said she has even made presentations to 6th graders. 

“The presentation teaches our students that I.D. theft can happen to anyone,” said the students’ teacher, Joanne Adams, ‘74, P '02, P '06. “They learned that there are a lot of precautionary measures they can take to help prevent I.D. theft, and action plans in case of an actual theft. They also learned that there are a lot of Apps and websites which walk them through the process of dealing with I.D. theft if it happens to them. For example, they now know that they should report I.D. theft to the police and the Federal Trade Commission.”

Herrick appreciates the lessons she has learned in the class. “This class is so important because the information we learn through the year is so useful!” she said.