Tips for college students to avoid identity theft - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Tips for college students to avoid identity theft

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KENNEWICK, Wash.--  More than 11 million people became victims of identity theft in 2009, according to a Javelin Strategy and Research study.  The study also showed young adults, aged 18-24, took the longest to realize they were victims of identity theft: 132 days. 

Here are some tips for college-bound students from the Better Business Bureau:

  • School mailboxes are not always secure and often can be accessed easily in a dorm or apartment. To combat sticky fingers in the mailroom, have sensitive mail sent to a permanent address such as a parent's home or a P.O. Box.
  • Important documents should be stored under lock and key. This includes your Social Security card, passport and bank and credit card statements. Shred any paper documents that have sensitive financial information rather than just tossing them out. Also shred any credit card offers that come in the mail.
  • Never lend your credit or debit card to anyone, even if they are a friend. Just say no if your friend wants you to cosign for a loan or financing for items like a TV.
  • 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 identity thieves online.
  • 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.
  • When shopping on unfamiliar websites, always check the company out first with BBB online. Also look for the BBB Accredited Business seal along with other trust seals; click on the seals to confirm that they are legitimate.
  • Check your credit report at least once a year with all three reporting bureaus for any suspicious activity or inaccuracies. You can do this for free by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
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