As college begins, the Better Business Bureau recommends that students take some simple steps to protect themselves against identity theft on campus.
Young adults are particularly vulnerable, the BBB says.
According to the 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report released by Javelin Strategy and Research, more than 11 million people became victims of identity theft in 2009. And young adults aged 18-24 took the longest time to detect identity theft—132 days on average, the BBB says.
As a result, the average cost for young adults ($1,156) was roughly five times more than the amount lost by other age groups, according to the BBB.
BBB tips to fight identify theft on campus:
– School mailboxes are not always secure. To combat sticky fingers in the mailroom, have sensitive mail sent to a permanent address, such as the parents’ home or a PO Box.
– Important documents should be stored under lock and key—such as in a filing cabinet. This includes a Social Security card, passport and bank and credit card statements. Shred any paper documents that have sensitive financial information. Shred any credit card offers that come in the mail.
– Never loan your credit or debit card to anyone, including a friend. Also, just say no if your friend wants you to cosign for a loan for items like a TV.
– Make sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus and spyware software.
– 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.
– 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. Georgia consumers are allowed two free copies of their credit reports each year from the three major credit reporting bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
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