The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.

It’s a proud time when a student goes away to college. Their mind will be opened up to new ideas, they will experience new things, and they will more than likely find themselves in debt. Because college is the first time that many students have the opportunity to live on their own, there isn’t too much real-world savvy or know-how.

This naivety combined with excessive Internet use can work against the average college student, making them more susceptible to credit card hackers and scammers preying on their personal information. Data reveals that college students are more likely to suffer from cyber crimes such as identity theft and fraud, as well as health issues, all attributed to their frequent Internet use.

Approximately 19.7 million college students live in America, yet there are 90.6 million college credit cardholders in the United States. Ninety-two percent of college students claimed to have at least one credit card, according to a Credit-Land survey. Also, according to the survey, 91 percent of enrolled college students used their credit card to pay for their tuition. With tuition rising in costs, paying with a credit card can be incredibly expensive with added interest rates, annual fees and any other penalty fees that can occur.

Once your personal information is online is it part of a public web of information. Hackers and scammers spend hours every day trying to crack codes and break down security walls, in order to access private information. Students are an easy target, because they usually aren’t being mindful of the information that they’re dispensing, and they usually have student loans or parents financing them, so their bank accounts are pretty hefty. Another thing is that a lot of students in this day and age shop online.

If a student credit card gets in the hands of the wrong person, it can have affects that last a lifetime. Upon graduation, a student may not be able to get another low-interest credit card, auto loan or home mortgage. Students should protect themselves and their credit card information while making purchases online. Students should also keep private information such as passwords, PIN numbers and answers to security questions private, as a lot of fraud occurs when someone close to you has your private information.

Also, when doing online shopping, only shop on sites that are secure. Students can differentiate a secure site by the ‘https://’ prefix as opposed to the ‘https://’ prefix. Secure sites offer added security when making purchases. Secure websites also hire out private security companies to ensure that your information will be sent over an encrypted network.

Being a student is a hard task, with all the studying and weekend partying, it can be easy to lose track of certain information. But as a smart person on track to get their college degree, think about who you lend your personal information too, and protect your personal data, as a mishap could haunt you and your credit score for years to come.