College students have plenty to juggle when it comes to school, studying, work, and their social life. Fighting identity theft also needs to make the list of priorities: here’s how!
Students Targeted for Identity Theft
According to a 2010 ID fraud survey report, more than 11 million people
became victims of identity theft in 2009. 11 million!! Young adults aged
18-24 took the longest to detect identity theft and their average loss,
over $1,000, was roughly 5 times more than amounts lost by other age groups.
“Identity thieves don’t care if you’re a struggling student and don’t have a penny
to your name; sometimes all they want is to exploit your clean credit record,”
said David Polino, Better Business Bureau President. “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.”
8 Easy Steps to Protect Students’ Identity
If you know a college-bound student, now’s the time to share with them
these eight easy steps to fight identity theft on campus:
1. Skip the School mailbox. These mail drops 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 a
parents’ home or a PO Box.
2. Use a lock and key. Important documents should be securely stored—
such as in a filing cabinet with a key. This includes social security card,
passport, bank and credit card statements.
3. Shred personal documents. Proper document destruction can go a
long way to protect yourself from this silent crime and because ID theft is
often committed by people we know, it’s important to guard your sensitive
information. A golden rule is to shred any paper documents that have
personal financial information rather than just toss them out for trash bin
diggers. Credit card offers that come in the mail should also hit the shredder
and not the trash.
4. Say No to Loans. Never loan your credit or debit card to anyone, even
if they are a friend. Also just say no if your friend (no matter how good a
friend) wants you to cosign for a loan or financing for items like a TV.
5. Keep Your Computer & Anti-virus Software Current. Make
sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus and spyware software. Also,
always install any updates and patches to your computer’s operating system,
internet browser, and virus software which help keep your computer safe
from any new ID theft advances.
6. Check Your Card Statements Carefully. Check your credit or
debit card statements closely each month for any suspicious activity. The
sooner you find potential fraud, the less you’ll suffer in the long run.
Don’t wait for “next month” to become three months from now, as a lot of
damage can be done in a short amount of time.
7. Shop Safely & With Trusted Vendors Online. When shopping on
unfamiliar web sites, check the company out first with BBB online (this goes
for Cell Phone web surfing as well). Also, look for the BBB Accredited Business
seal along with other trust seals and click on the seals to confirm that they
8. Check Your Credit Report Annually (even if you don’t use your
card regularly). There are 3 credit reporting bureaus and all should be
checked each year (this can be done for FREE!). Set a date, like your birthday
or as the New Year begins and plan to check your credit report for any
suspicious activity or inaccuracies. You can visit www.annualcreditreport.com
to do this for FREE.
The content of this post is adapted from the U.S. Better Business Bureau press
release. Read the original PR release, here. For more advice on fighting fraud
visit BBB online at www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-finance.
We’d love to hear from you on this topic! How are you protecting your family’s ID? Do you have an identity theft story you can share? How did you go about getting it resolved? Please let us know in the comments section of this post.
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