You packed everything you could cram into your dorm room. You thought you had thought of everything until your wallet was lost or stolen. What should you do to protect your identity and finances? You had checked everything off your list, but you forgot to include, “protect your identity and finances.” Now what?
Theft on college campuses is real. And you need to be prepared to protect your identity and finances. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), roughly 15% of identity theft complaints came from people aged 20 to 29 in 2016. That added up to 60,000 stolen identities!
You are in a high-risk group for identity theft. Don’t assume that it will never happen to you. Taking a few precautions can help you protect your identity and finances, and should your identity be stolen make it easier to recover your life.
Under lock and key
Your dorm room is your new home away from home. Your parents were responsible for securing your home, and you probably never gave it a second thought. Now it’s your job to protect yourself.
You don’t want to be suspicious about every person who enters your dorm room. But it’s smart to protect your identity and finances by removing temptation. Unlike home, you don’t control who has access to your room. Who is your roommate letting in when you’re not there?
It’s up to you to keep your belongings safe. In fact, buying a safe to store your personal documents, laptop, and other devices that contain your sensitive information is a smart idea. So is a shredder.
An ounce of prevention
What exactly should you keep under lock and key? You know the list:
- Social Security Card
- Credit cards
- Debit cards
- Insurance cards
- Driver’s license
- Birth certificate
Any document that connects your name with an account number should be protected. Don’t carry these cards in your wallet unless you absolutely need to. Be mindful of what you really need to bring with you on any given day.
Figurative lock and key
With your paper documents safely under literal lock and key, be sure to secure your digital identity and finances, too. You know the drill; now put it into practice. To protect your identity and finances, follow these simple procedures:
- Use strong passwords. You need a combination of upper and lower case letters along with numbers and symbols.
- Use separate passwords for each account. Should one password get hacked, you won’t hand the hacker your whole life.
- Don’t keep your passwords where they can be easily linked to your accounts and devices.
- Don’t use the same PIN number on all your accounts. Especially avoid using numbers that provide part of your Social Security number, phone number, street address or birthday. PINs, like passwords, shouldn’t be easy to guess.
You’ve proven that you’re book smart by getting accepted into college. Prove that you’re street smart, too. Protect your identity and finances!
What’s in your wallet?
Despite your best efforts, thieves and hackers are persistent. As soon as you discover that your wallet has been stolen or lost you need to take action to protect yourself. Don’t delay!
The sooner you report your lost debit card the better. Your liability is limited to $50 when you file a report within a couple of days. If you delay, you’ll be responsible for up to $500 of fraudulent charges within 60 days. Longer than that—you pay it all.
If you’ve copied—front and back—all those cards you carry in your wallet, you’ll know what’s in it! You’ll also have the phone numbers you need to report a lost or stolen card.
Who you gonna call?
Social Security cards—call one of the three major credit bureaus. Place a fraud alert and credit freeze on your accounts.
Debit cards—call your financial institution and cancel the card. Set up a new account with a new number.
Credit cards—call the card issuer to cancel the account. Ask for a new account with a new number.
Contact your Secretary of State office to have a new driver’s license issued. And don’t forget to replace your insurance cards. You want to avoid fraudulent car and health insurance claims made in your name.
United Financial has your back
We know what it takes to be vigilant when it comes to protecting your identity and finances. So before you head to college, stop in at your local United Financial branch office and sign up for ID Protect. At only $1.99 a month, even a college student can afford it. In fact, how can you afford not to?