Identity Theft Tips for College-Bound Students

Written by ryan. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on August 31, 2010 with No Comments

College students have enough to juggle when it comes to school, work and their social life, and fighting fraud often does not make their list of priorities. Because college students are so susceptible to identity theft, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) recommends that they take steps to protect themselves on campus.

According to the 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report released by Javelin Strategy and Research, more than 11 million people became victims of identity theft in 2009. Young adults ages 18-24 took the longest to detect identity theft – 132 days on average – when compared to other age groups. Subsequently, the average cost – $1,156 – was roughly five times more than amounts lost by other age groups.

Identity thieves do not care if you are a struggling student and do not have a penny to your name; sometimes all they want is to exploit your clean credit record. Young adults that establish good habits for monitoring and detecting fraud are laying a path that will help create a healthy financial road for the rest of their lives.

The BBB recommends that college-bound students use the following seven steps to fight identity theft on campus.

School mailboxes are not always secure and can often be easily accessed in a dorm or apartment. To combat sticky fingers in the mailroom, have sensitive mail sent to a permanent address such as the parents’ home or a PO Box.

Important documents should be stored under lock and key – such as in a filing cabinet. This includes social security card, passport and bank and credit card statements. Shred any paper documents that have sensitive financial information rather than just tossing them out. Yes, there are dumpster divers and they do find your information. Also shred any credit card offers that come in the mail. In fact, BBB recommends you call 888-567-8688 and OPTOUT from receiving credit card offers in the mail. You will be asked for your Social Security number, but it is a safe bet you are making the right choice – pass this suggestion on to your parents as well.

Never loan your credit or debit card to anyone, even if they are a friend. Also just say no if your friend wants you to cosign for a loan or financing for items like a TV.

Make sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus and spyware software. Always install any updates and patches to your computer’s operating system or browser software which help keep your computer safe from any new advances by identity thieves online.

Always check your credit or debit card statements closely for any suspicious activity. The sooner you identify any potential fraud, the less you will suffer in the long run.

When shopping on unfamiliar websites, always check the company out first with the BBB online. Also look for the BBB Accredited Business seal along with other trust seals; click on the seals to confirm that they are legitimate.

Check your credit report at least once a year with all three reporting bureaus for any suspicious activity or inaccuracies. You can do this for free by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.

For more advice on fighting fraud and managing personal finances visit www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-finance. Students should become familiar with checking out BBB business reviews on companies they are considering doing business with. It is an easy process; just visit www.bbb.org and you can easily pull up a company’s report.

This article was supplied by the Better Business Bureau. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Chronicle staff.

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