JACKSON, Miss.- College students are headed back to campus and they’re going with a target on their back—a target for scammers. The Better Business Bureau recommended a few steps to take to protect your identity, money, and credit.
Scammers have moved on from the elderly and have their sights set on college student. However, it’s not necessarily for their money, its for their credit.
“Identity theft can affect students as much or more than their parents,” said John O’Hara CEO of BBB serving Mississippi.”All identity thieves want is to exploit a clean credit record. By practicing good habits for monitoring and detecting fraud, students can establish good financial habits for monitoring and detecting fraud, students can establish good financial habits for the rest of their lives.”
According to research done by Javelin Strategy and Research, it takes the longest to detect identity theft for people ages 18-24. On average it wasn’t discovered for 132 days and total cost of losses totaled $1,156 on average. That is five times more than other age groups.
BBB recommended these seven steps to keeping your identity safe:
- 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 antispyware 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 first with BBB. Look for a BBB Accredited Business seal along with other trust seals; click on the seals to confirm that they are 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.