Despite my excitement and apprehension about my son going back to school, I am thankful that there are still many years ahead of us before he goes to college! When I think back on that very first year when I packed up and moved to Santa Barbara at just 17, I can’t believe my parents were able to let go like they did. I was so young and incredibly idealistic about the world. I could barely cook a meal or wash my clothes, so you can imagine how little I knew about identity theft. I was trusting and a bit naive…like many college-aged students, which is why they are so vulnerable to identity theft.
This month, LifeLock offers some tips for parents of college-bound students to begin dialoguing about the topic of identity theft:
No parent wants to think that their child is drinking (smoking, involved with drugs, etc.), particularly if they are underage. But failure to discuss these topics doesn’t mean they will go away. As a mom, I’ve committed to having important, often difficult, discussions with my children because if I don’t talk to them, they’ll talk to their peers, who may not offer the best advice. Fake Ids are more than just unlawful…they could put a student at risk for having their identity stolen. Fake ID shops are often a cover for a more elaborate identity theft ring. It’s important to have an open dialogue with students about the potential, long-term effects of identity theft. Bottom line: Always use your real ID and follow the law.
The internet is more than just a means to staying in contact with friends and family members. It is a vital resource for all kinds of information, and students will likely be using it for assignments and research. While many campuses offer free Wi-Fi services, it is important that parents discuss the inherent risks involved. When connected to the internet via a free Wi-Fi service, students should avoid social networking sites, paying bills online or shopping with a credit card.
Credit v. Debit Cards
As a young adult, I never had access to my debit card. My mother had the foresight to understand the risks involved with giving me something that could result in a complete wipe out of my checking or savings account. Parents can assign their students one credit card that can be used for purchases. If this card is compromised, there is often a 60 day window to notify the financial institution that issued the card without being liable. Tip: Consider putting a limit on the credit card.
Safeguard Your Social Security Number
Be certain to find out if your college student’s identification number is the same as their Social Security number. If this is the case, request that it be changed. Remember to discuss the importance of safeguarding the number/card. It is a number that should never be given out to friends, etc. Tip: Lock up the card in a box
Discuss with your student about fake websites and how to identify them. Towards the end of each semester, your student may receive emails with offers for weekend vacations. Identity thieves may pose as a reputable website offering a fantastic deal. Tip:Verify all offers by opening a new web browser and typing in the official web address of the website offering the deal to validate it’s authenticity.
Even if you don’t have college-aged children yet, I recommend that you begin thinking about protecting their identity…today. Children are actually a thief’s ideal target. With a clean credit report and parents who don’t think to check their child’s credit history, theft can go unchecked for years…until that child becomes a young adult seeking employment, a drivers’ license, or a loan. LifeLock’s identity theft services can be valuable for children and adults. It’s never too early to begin protecting their identity.
Disclosure: This is a compensated post in partnership with LifeLock. Some information and stats provided by LifeLock. All opinions remain solely that of the author.
Photo: Rockin’ Mama