BBB Tips To Avoid College ID Theft

If you have a college student packing to live on or near cam­pus this fall, now’s a good time to talk about preventing fraud while they’re away from home. Better Business Bureau (BBB) recom­mends that they take seven sim­ple steps to protect themselves from identity theft and other fraud on campus.

Identity theft can affect pen­niless students as much or more than their parents,” said Michelle Corey, St. Louis BBB President and CEO. “Sometimes a relative­ly clean credit record can be very attractive to thieves. By estab­lishing good habits for monitor­ing and detecting fraud, students can establish healthy financial habits for the rest of their lives.”

About 4% of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission last year involved people 19 or under – a total of 15,496 complaints. The number jumped to 15 percent for those age 20 to 29, for a total of 58,904 complaints.

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

School mailboxes are not al­ways secure and often can be ac­cessed easily in a dorm or apart­ment. To combat sticky fingers in the mailroom, have sensitive mail sent to a permanent address, such as a parent’s home or a post office box.

Important documents should be stored under lock and key. This includes your Social Secu­rity 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 lend your credit or debit card to anyone, even if they are a friend. Just say no if your friend wants you to cosign for a loan or financing for items like a TV.

Make sure your computer, lap­top or tablet has up-to-date anti­virus and anti-spyware software. Always install any updates and patches to your computer’s op­erating system or browser soft­ware, which help keep your com­puter safe from new schemes or hacks 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. Getting your statements online is more secure, but make sure you actually look at the statements.

When shopping on unfamiliar websites, always check the com­pany out with BBB. Look for a BBB Accredited Business seal; click on the seal to confirm it’s legitimate.

Check your credit report at least once a year with all three reporting bureaus for any suspi­cious activity or inaccuracies. You can do this for free by vis­iting www.annualcreditreport.com.

For more tips you can trust, visit bbb.org or call toll free at 888-996-3887.

Consumers may obtain BBB Business Profiles or post Cus­tomer Reviews by going to www.bbb.org.

About BBB

BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Busi­ness Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 char­ity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.

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