College students have enough to juggle when it comes to school, work and their social life and fighting fraud often doesn’t make the list of priorities. Because students are so susceptible to identity theft, Better Business Bureau recommends that they take eight simple steps to protect themselves on campus.
“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 Don Mackinnon, BBB president and CEO. “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.”
BBB recommends that university/college-bound students take the following eight 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 insurance card, passport and bank and credit card statements. Shred any paper documents that have sensitive financial information rather than just tossing them out. Also shred any credit card offers that come in the mail.
- 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’ll suffer in the long run.
- When shopping on unfamiliar web sites, always check the company out first with 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.
- Don’t publish birth date, email address, mother’s maiden name, pets name or other identifying personal information on social networking sites. Use privacy settings to control who has access to your profile.
- Check your credit report at least once a year.