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Campus Safety for Your Credit Card


By: Larry Goldberg

If you’ve just arrived on campus, you may be worried about the safety of your new student credit card, and with good right. More than seventy thousand college students reported identity theft last year, and that number seems to be on the rise. Since identity theft can cost you thousands of dollars in lost time and money, the best step is to prevent the problem in the first place.

 

  • One of the best ways to prevent identity theft on campus is to log out of the computer in the computer lab. This is particularly true if you’ve been paying bills with your student credit card or working on your credit card account. If you stay logged in, another student can walk by, access your temporary internet files or cookies, and get into your account without a problem.
  • Another good way to prevent identity theft on campus is to never give out your credit card number or other personal info online (or over the phone) unless you started the transaction. There are hundreds of phishing scams out there, and one could net you in a hurry if you start offering your student credit card number to everyone over the phone.
  • Be sure that you don’t keep all of your student credit cards in your wallet or pocket book. Should you ever be mugged, the thief would have instant access to all of your accounts in a hurry.
  • If you get student credit card offers in the mail, bank statements, or other personal documents, shred them as soon as possible – don’t just put them in your trash can. Identity thieves can steal that information to gain access to your accounts.
  • Finally, be sure that you’re aware of the ways identity thieves can gather information about you. You’re more likely to be able to protect yourself when you know where the attack might be coming from.

ID theft can occur if someone steals your wallet, if someone steals your mail, if someone goes through your trash that contains personal information, if someone breaks into your dorm or apartment and steals personal files, if someone breaks into your online accounts and steals the information you have stored there, or if you respond to an e-mail phishing scam.

 

It’s impossible to prevent identity theft while you’re on campus, but there are several things you can do to keep your risk levels a bit lower. First, be sure that every account you have is protected not only by a difficult to guess password, but also by a security question that only you would know the answer to. Something like “What was your first pet’s name?” usually does the trick. If someone does manage to steal your account information, they won’t be able to access it without both the security question and the password itself. Second, if you do keep personal information around your dorm or your apartment, find a good way to secure it. Whether you use a lock box, a safe, or just a great hiding place, find a way to keep it safe. Finally, ask campus security about the current identity theft protections in place on your campus. Student credit cards can lead to identity theft, but these tips can help you minimize your risk.




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