Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
With millions of college students soon heading to campuses across the United States to attend school, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is offering seven tips that these young adults can use to help protect themselves from identity theft and other types of fraud while away on campus.
“Identity theft can affect penniless students as much or more than their parents,” Michelle L. Corey, St. Louis BBB President and CEO, stated in a news release. “By establishing good habits for monitoring and detecting fraud, students can establish healthy financial habits for the rest of their lives.”
Younger adults are susceptible to identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Annual Summary of Consumer Complaints revealed 15,226 identity theft complaints from people 19 or under and 48,697 identity theft complaints from those age 20 to 29, making up 25 percent of all identity theft complaints.
A study by Javelin Strategy and Research found identity theft committed against people aged 18 to 24 took the longest to detect – 132 days on average – compared to other age groups while the average cost of losses to this age group – $1,156 – was about five times more than amounts lost by other age groups.
BBB recommends that college students take the following seven steps to fight identity theft on campus:
- 1) School mailboxes are not always secure and often can be accessed easily in a dorm or apartment. To combat identity theft, have sensitive mail sent to a permanent address, such as a parent’s home or a post office box.
- 2) Important documents such as Social Security card, passport, and bank and credit card statements should be stored under lock and key. Shred credit card offers any paper documents that have sensitive financial information rather than just tossing them out.
- 3) Never lend credit or debit cards to anyone, even if they are a friend. Just say no if a friend wants a cosigner for a loan or financing for items like a TV.
- 4) Make sure computers, laptops, and tablets have up-to-date antivirus and anti-spyware software which helps keep them safe from new by identity theft schemes or hacks online.
- 5) Check credit or debit card statements closely for any suspicious activity. The sooner any identity theft is identified, the less the identity theft victim will suffer in the long run.
- 6) When shopping on unfamiliar websites, check the company out first with BBB of look for a BBB Accredited Business seal along with other trust seals.
- 7) Check credit reports at least once a year with all three reporting bureaus for any suspicious activity or inaccuracies for free by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
For more advice on fighting identity theft, call 314-645-3300 or visit www.bbb.org. The complete BBB news release is available at www.bbb.org/stlouis/news-events/news-releases/2016/07/bbb-tips-to-help-college-students-protect-against-id-theft/.
More Information about Identity Theft from ESR
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