BBB Warns College Students About Identity Theft – WFXRtv.com | Vette Leader

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — College students are preparing to go back to school, but scammers are ready to take advantage of these young adults’ lack of financial experience.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) ​​says people in their 20s and 30s are more likely to lose money to scams than older consumers because they’re constantly online.

When young adults drop out of college, the BBB says many of them are ill-equipped, adding that those who live alone or have low levels of financial literacy are more likely to fall prey to scammers

To protect college students from identity theft, the BBB urges you not to be too trusting when it comes to your personal information, be it online or in person. For example, don’t let friends borrow your credit or debt card, don’t leave your card(s) lying around, and don’t be so eager to sign up for a credit or debt card without taking precautions.

“Be careful when signing up for credit cards because you can get into a lot of trouble if you don’t know how to manage yourself. So set a budget, know how to manage yourself, and don’t get stuck in a hole you can’t get out of,” said Julie Wheeler, President and CEO of BBB Serving Western Virginia.

Whether you’re an aspiring newbie or the parent of one, the Bureau recommends the following steps to build sound financial habits that provide lifelong benefits:

  • Use credit and debit cards responsibly:
    • The BBB recommends using a debit card for everyday items and credit cards for unplanned expenses.
    • The bureau also emphasizes the importance of students building their credit history, adding that they must understand that interest rates, late fees, and other fees affect the amount owed.
    • Also, when choosing a credit card, pay attention to the annual fee, interest rate, grace period, and late fees.
  • Protect your personal information both online and offline:
    • Shred unnecessary documents that contain personal information such as social security numbers or bank account numbers.
    • While the BBB is urging people to go paperless to avoid potential opportunities for identity thieves, anyone who prints out account information — like paper statements, passwords, or debit or credit card details — should keep it in a safe place in your dorm room.
    • Never give your PIN number to anyone else.
    • Monitor financial accounts regularly by setting up app notifications.
  • Take advantage of student discounts:
    • If you have a cafeteria or meal plan, the BBB encourages you not to spend extra money on food. However, before deciding on a meal plan, it’s a good idea to research the options available at your school, most of which are a lot cheaper than eating out.
    • If you’re going out, take advantage of any student discounts at businesses or venues.
  • Pay less for textbooks:
    • Check out different websites and retailers — like Amazon or eBay — to get the best deal on textbooks.
    • If possible, buy used books from the campus bookstore so that you can sell them again at the end of the semester. You can also borrow textbooks from bookstores or websites like Chegg.com.
  • Stick to a budget:
    • Following an organized budget—which parents can set up each semester—helps students stay on track with spending and financial goals.
      • “Start with the income. Calculate how much you have available — either from parents, savings, a side job, financial aid, grants or loans, or other sources of income. Include books, rent, food, entertainment and other expenses,” writes the BBB. “Remember to include an amount in your budget for emergencies.”
  • Start saving now:
    • Developing good saving habits early on helps students reap lifelong benefits.
      • “In your 20s, you have a small window of opportunity to wield the power of compound interest,” according to the BBB website.
  • Understand the dangers of debt:
    • Understand the importance of paying off debt in a timely and responsible manner.
    • Know the basics of debt management:
      • Pay on time.
      • Pay more than the minimum payment due.
      • Avoid missed or late payments that lead to costly late fees, higher interest rates, and negative marks on your credit report.
  • Find reputable credit counselors by contacting the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies.

The BBB also warns college students of the risks of falling for “too good to be true” solutions and urges them to defy “Earn Hundreds of Dollars, No Experience Required” employment programs; the “guaranteed” credit offers; and the unsolicited emails that promise to reduce or eliminate problematic debt.

For more financial recommendations from the BBB, follow this link.

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