Forget notebooks and pens — parents should send their college-bound kids to school armed with shredders, anti-virus software and a lecture about identity theft.
A report by the Federal Trade Commission found that last year, 8 percent of identity theft complaints came from those under 19 years old and 23 percent came from people in their 20s.
Adam Levin, the chairman and co-founder of Identity Theft 911, says that is partly because many college students arrive on campus with new bank accounts and credit cards but little financial education.
"You don't check your credit, you don't think you have credit. Someone can literally create the perfect credit scenario and then destroy it," says Levin.
He says young people also make it easy by oversharing on social networking sites and by constantly staying connected via laptops or smartphones.
"To you, your smartphone is a communication device. To an identity thief, your smartphone is a collection and data storage device, just like your computer," says Levin. "So you need to treat it with the same respect that you treat your computer."
Make sure all children's devices are password-protected and equipped with anti-virus software.
He also recommends re-enforcing a lesson from childhood: don't talk to strangers, be it replying to phishing emails or simply answering Facebook quizzes. He says they all allow thieves to garner personal information, like the street you grew up on or the name of your dog, all of which might help them answer security questions or crack simple passwords.
"Once it's assembled, once they've created a mosaic of your life, all of a sudden they are putting themselves in a stronger position to be able to impersonate you," says Levin.
His advice is to make identity protection a family affair. Parents should regularly monitor children's credit, teach them about good password practices and get them into the habit of checking their bank and credit accounts daily. Those lessons which serve students well, long after they graduate.