8 Safety Tips to Fight Identity Theft at College

June 27, 2014

College students have enough to juggle when it comes to school, work and their social life …fighting fraud just doesn’t seem to make the list of priorities. If you have a college-bound student, now’s the time to remind them of some simple steps they need to take as they pave their way toward independence. BBB recommends that they take eight steps to protect themselves on campus.

BBB recommends that you send off your college-bound student with the following eight steps to fight identity theft on campus: 

  • 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 the parents’ home or a PO Box. 
  • 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. 
  • Shred it. 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 tossing them out for trash bin diggers. Credit card offers that come in the mail should also hit the shredder rather than the trash. 
  • 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 wants you to cosign for a loan or financing for items like a TV. 
  • Gain Technology Know How. 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. 
  • Do your Financial Homework. Check your credit or debit card statements closely each month for any suspicious activity. The sooner you identify any potential fraud, the less you’ll suffer in the long run. Don’t wait for “next month” to become three months from now. 
  • Shop Safely Online. When shopping on unfamiliar web sites, always check the company out first with BBB online. Look for the BBB Accredited Business seal along with other trust seals and click on the seals to confirm that they are legitimate.
  • Check, Check, Check. There are three credit reporting bureaus and all three should be checked each year and it can be done for free too. 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 so for free.