|17 ways to avoid ID theft on campus
the junk mail.
Yes, there really is a do-not-send list for junk mail. The Direct
Marketing Association, the trade group for marketers who use marketing
by mail, requires its members to stop sending mail to anyone on
the list. While it won't stop all unsolicited mail, you should see
a significant decrease within about three months. The downside:
While applying by mail is free, applying online costs $5. Send a
short note to: Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association,
P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY, 10512.
5. Limit the number of credit or debit cards you take to campus.
Keep it to one or two, says Ulzheimer. With checks or debit cards,
limit your risk by limiting the amount of money in the account.
He suggests parking the money in a savings account. As needed, just
move small amounts into the checking account.
Make certain the bank won't allow withdrawals from the checking account to pull money from your savings account or a line of credit.
6. Find a safe
place for valuables like Social Security or credit cards.
A person who makes off with your Social Security card, credit card or debit card has the keys to your personal identity, not to mention your cash. Since you can't keep them with you at all times, find a safe place to keep them, whether it's a locked drawer in the room or just between the pages of a book.
7. Keep financial papers private.
If you do have financial papers -- bank statements, credit card bills, student loan documents -- in your room, keep them out of reach and sight of others. Best bet: a heavy piece of furniture that locks.
That goes double for medical records that tend to
have a lot of personal info, and sometimes that Social Security
number, too, says Irvine. If you don't need the records, destroy
Some options: Have stuff sent to your home and have
your parents deal with it while you're at school, or handle financial
transactions online and have the related paperwork sent home for
your parents to store. Deal with paperwork quickly, and when you
no longer need it, rip it into several dozen pieces. That way, dumpster
divers have nothing they can use.
8. Act quickly.
When your financial statements come in, scan them for any discrepancies. If you find anything, call the bank or card company immediately, says Givens. Not only do you preserve more of your protection rights, you put a quicker end to a scamster's spending spree.
9. If your
Social Security number is your student ID number, ask if it can
Some schools will change your ID number, while others have just
simply gotten in the SSN habit. "Being forced to carry your
Social Security number on your student ID card puts you at risk
for identity theft," says Givens.
While some states outlawed the use of Social Security numbers for student ID cards, many haven't. Many schools still use them, which is bad news for students, says Givens. "There's really no excuse in this day and age," she says.