The silent crime, also known as identity theft was the second most common consumer complaint and over 88,000 young adults reported fraud in 2017 according to the Federal Trade Commission.
And although the number of college students affected by identity theft increases year over year, few take precautions to prevent being victimized. BBB urges students to get in the habit of checking their credit and doing their research before signing any documents or purchasing items.
College students have enough to juggle when it comes to school, work and their social life. Putting safeguards in place to prevent fraud should also be a top concern.
BBB offers the following tips for college students to protect their identity:
Check and then double check. There are three major credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. All three should be checked each year and can be done for free at annualcreditreport.com. Set a date, like your birthday or the New Year and check your credit report for any suspicious activity or inaccuracies.
Shop savvy. When shopping online on unfamiliar website, always check the company’s Business Profile at bbb.org. Do your due diligence by reading customer reviews and complaints. Make sure the website is secure with https.
Do your financial homework. Check your credit and debit card statements closely each week for any suspicious activity. The sooner you identify any potential fraud, the less you’ll suffer in the long run.
Gain technology know-how. Make sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus and spyware software. Install any updates and patches to your computer’s operating system or browser software which helps keep your computer safe from online identity thieves.
Shred it. Proper document destruction can go a long way to protecting yourself from the silent crime, identity theft. It’s important to guard your personal information. A golden rule is to shred any paper documents that have personal financial information rather than tossing it into the trash can. Credit card offers that come in the mail should also hit the shredder rather than the trash.
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 be delivered to a permanent address such as your parents’ address or a post office 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.
For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call BBB at 903-581-5704 or use BBB ScamTracker.