Protecting Your Identity in College
When you go off to college, the possibilities seem endless. For most students, it is the first opportunity to explore your independence and learn how to handle life on your own. College also provides a prime learning opportunity for managing your own finances and beginning to build your credit.
Unfortunately, this opportunity can also open the door for potential identity theft. You may not even be aware that your information has been stolen until you attempt to rent an apartment or apply for your first credit card. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to protect your personal and financial information from being compromised:
Safeguard Your Social Security Number
If you don’t have it memorized already, memorize your Social Security Number. Unless you know you will need your Social Security card for identification purposes while away at school, leave the physical card at home. If you do need to bring it with you to college, store it in a secure location, such a lockbox in your dorm or apartment, and only take it out when you are absolutely certain you will need it. If your university uses Social Security Numbers for Student ID Numbers, ask if you are able to request an alternative identification number.
Be Cautious With Your Mail
Do not throw away sensitive mail, especially billing statements or pre-approved credit card offers. Instead, shred these documents in the university’s library or in a departmental office. Identity thieves are always on the lookout for this information; don’t let it fall into the wrong hands. When you need to send outgoing mail, deposit it directly into a United States Postal Service mailbox.
Avoid using public computers or Wi-Fi to conduct any transactions such as paying bills or shopping online. Only use trusted networks and devices and secure sites to make purchases or enter personal information.
Protect Your Information
Don’t share your personal information unless you know where it is going and how it will be protected. Stay aware at all times who you are sharing information with, and be cautious of how much you share. Don’t share any login information with anyone, not even your roommate or best friend. Store important documents in a locked drawer or file cabinet. Always lock your computer when you are done using it, or even if you walk away for a quick break – this goes for your phone and other devices as well. Never leave any of your electronic devices unlocked and unattended, or anyone else will be able to access the information stored on your device.
Even when following all precautions, there is still a chance that identity thieves may access your information. The most effective way to detect fraud right away is to stay on top of your account. You can monitor your account anytime, anywhere with Digital Banking. Set up e-Alerts to be notified instantly of activity on your account. Use our Card Guard app to remotely manage all aspects of your Robins Financial Credit Union debit and credit cards. Constantly monitoring your account is the best way to easily detect fraudulent activity. If you notice any suspicious charges when reviewing your account, contact us to report it immediately.