BBB: Tips to Protect College Students from Identity Theft

  
     
August 14, 2014

Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina offers six simple steps to protect college students from identity theft.

According to a recent study by Javelin Strategy and Research, identity theft committed against people aged 18 to 24 took longest to detect when compared to other age groups. The average cost of losses to this age group, $1,156, was roughly five times more than the amount lost by other age groups. 

“College students have enough to juggle when it comes to school, work and their social lives, and fighting fraud often does not make their list of priorities,” said Toby Barfield, president and CEO of BBB serving Eastern North Carolina. “Because they are targeted so often by scammers, it is vital to teach them how to secure their identities.”

BBB recommends that college students take the following six steps to fight identity theft on campus:  

Send sensitive mail to your parents’ home or a post office box. School mailboxes are not always secure and often can be accessed easily in a dorm or apartment.

Important documents should be stored under lock and key. This includes your Social Security card, passport and bank statements. Purchase a personal shredder and shred credit card offers and any paper documents that have sensitive financial information rather than just tossing them out.

Make sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus and spyware software. Always install any updates 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 card statements closely for any suspicious activity. The sooner you identify any potential fraud, the less you will suffer in the long run.

Check out unfamiliar websites with BBB. Look for the BBB Accredited Business Seal and click on it to check out a company’s Business Review.

Check your credit report at least once a year. You are entitled to one free report a year from each of the three reporting bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. You can do this for free by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.

For additional information on securing your identity, visit bbb.org.