School is around the corner, and as university and college students are getting settled on campus, fighting fraud may not be their top priority. However, students are among the most susceptible to identity theft as they juggle many tasks while getting adapted to life away from home.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recommends 10 simple steps students can take to protect themselves as the school year begins:
1. Sign up for security alerts on your accounts and have them sent to your mobile phone. This simple safeguard will tell you immediately if changes have been made to any of your accounts.
2. Have sensitive mail sent to your parents’ home or a post office box. School mailboxes are not always secure and are often easily accessible in a dorm or apartment.
3. Store your important documents under lock and key. This includes your Social Insurance Number card, passport and bank and credit card statements. Shred credit card offers and any paper documents that have sensitive financial information rather than just tossing them in a dorm trash can.
4. Never lend your credit or debit card to anyone. Just say no if your friend wants to borrow your card or asks you to co-sign for a loan or financing for items like a TV.
5. Make sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus and spyware software. Always install any updates and patches to your computer’s operating system or browser software, which help keep your computer safe from any new advances by online identity thieves.
6. 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.
7. Check out and verify unfamiliar websites with the BBB. Visit bbb.org and look for the BBB Accredited Business seal along with a company’s rating; to see if the company is legitimate.
8. Check your credit report at least once a year. You are entitled to one free report a year from each reporting bureaus: www.transunion.ca and www.equifax.ca. Review them closely for any suspicious activity or inaccuracies.
9. Be selfish with personal information. Social media sites encourage the sharing of information. However, avoid sharing your birth date, address and other information that may be used to help put together a profile that can be used to steal your identity. Check the privacy settings for your profile and considering hiding your profile unless you approve a friendship/contact request.
10. Avoid rental scams. If you are not staying on campus then you may be searching for an apartment rental. Scammers often pose as out-of-town landlords that require a deposit on the rental. Once the money is paid, usually through a money transfer, the new tenant discovers there isn’t actually an apartment to rent, at all.
For more tips you can trust, visit www.mbc.bbb.org and for the latest.