When parents think about keeping their college student safe, they often think about ensuring they travel in groups or keep their doors locked at night. Although these are very important, there is a less noticeable threat that needs to be brought to their attention: identity theft.
Identity theft typically falls into two groups: a one-time opportunity or an organized theft. For example, a one-time opportunity theft may involve someone using a debit or credit card after noticing it has been carelessly left out in the open. On the other hand, an organized theft is premeditated and usually involves thieves that are part of a criminal group.
It is important your college student knows identity theft can ruin job opportunities and severely damage their credit score. They are a prime target for identity theft because their credit history is often a blank slate, which is perfect for someone who wants to obtain new credit in their name.
Below are five things you should discuss with your college student to help them avoid falling victim to identity theft:
1) Don’t be careless with financial documents. It’s never good to leave things around the apartment or dorm for wandering eyes.
2) College kids use online resources to purchase just about anything, so it is important they make sure the websites they use are secure.
3) Make sure conversations regarding financial information are done in private. Some identity thieves eavesdrop to get personal information.
4) Always shred credit card offers and unwanted paperwork containing personal information. FORUM Credit Union offers FREE Shred Days, which keep our members safe with secure document destruction. Check out our Shred Days, here.
5) All consumers have the right to check their credit reports once a year, for free. A credit check can help a person identify incidents of identity theft and resolve the issue before more damage is done. FORUM Credit Union offers FREE Credit Check Days, where you can review your credit report with a branch representative. For a list of FREE Credit Check Days, click here.
The transition from college into the real world is already difficult, help your college student start off on the right foot by giving them tips to avoid identity theft.