Students - Protecting Your Personal Data

In September 2005 the Information Commissioner, issued 10 top tips aimed at helping students to safeguard their personal data to ensure it does not fall into the wrong hands. Mr Thomas said:

“There are a variety of measures that students can take to ensure that their personal information is as secure as possible. It can be very irritating being pestered by unwanted marketing calls, text messages and junk mail, particularly if it involves unwittingly signing up for a service you are then charged for.

Identity theft is also a growing problem, and I urge students to be vigilant and take these simple steps to protect their personal information.”

The top 10 tips include:

  1. treat your personal data as ‘confidential’ – don’t give it away easily
  2. always be wary of those asking for your personal information. Are they genuine? How will they use it? Will it be passed on to others?
  3. sign up with the Telephone Preference Service (telephone 0845 070 0707) to prevent unsolicited direct marketing calls
  4. know where your personal documents are (passports, driving licence, birth certificate) and keep them safe
  5. if you receive letters, faxes, emails or telephone calls asking for your information, avoid replying unless you know they are genuine
  6. always read the small print carefully - you must give permission for your details to be passed on to other organisations or used for marketing purposes, and equally, you can refuse
  7. never disclose or write down personal passwords or PIN numbers
  8. safeguard your personal documents, (such as bank statements, utility bills, debit or credit card transaction receipts), so that nothing can be obtained by fraudsters showing your name, address or other details
  9. always check your bank / credit card statements for payments you don’t recognise
  10. just say no – you have the legal right to ask a particular company to stop contacting you and they have an obligation to mark your telephone number as one they can not call

Mr Thomas added:

“The Data Protection Act is there to help protect people’s personal information. My office takes breaches of the Act very seriously and we have powers to prosecute in certain circumstances.”

For more information on data protection: