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17 ways to avoid ID theft on campus
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4. Deep-six 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.

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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 them.

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 be changed.
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.

 
 
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