Adults in the working world are well aware of the dangers of fraud.
With over four million fraud victims every year, it comes as no surprise that consumers know they must arm themselves against credit card fraud and other forms of identity theft.
College students, however, might not have the same first-hand knowledge when it comes to identifying and avoiding scams.
It is perhaps because of this that college students are at a higher risk for being scammed.
While today’s generation of college students tend to be more tech-savvy than their parents before them, this doesn’t mean they’re safe from fraud.
Read on to discover more about what fraud is and what steps college students can take to safeguard themselves from it.
What is Fraud?
By definition, fraud happens when a scammer commits a crime that will result in a financial gain for them.
As you can see, fraud is rampant in many parts of the country and affects one out of ten people.
College students, in particular, are at risk of having their information compromised.
This is because of high rates of online activity, in addition to a common misconception that college students aren’t careful enough online, or aren’t well-educated on financial security.
Many college students don’t have credit cards or any credit to their name and therefore believe they can never fall victim to credit fraud.Click to tweet
This is not the case, especially in a world where sensitive personal data like credit and debit card information is stored on web browsers that can be easily hacked.
Types of Fraud That Will Commonly Affect College Students
- Identity theft and fraud: This type of fraud occurs when your personal details are stolen, like your Social Security number or bank account number. The scammer can use these details to open bank accounts, sign up for or spend money on credit cards, and take out loans. This type of fraud will hugely damage your credit and may take years to reverse.
- Phishing scams: If you have an email address, you’ve probably seen phishing scams in your inbox or junk folder. A phishing scam will try and trick you to give out your personal information, or may infect your computer or device with a virus. Most email providers have a built-in option to report phishing scams.
- Online shopping fraud: With online shopping fraud, several different things might happen. You might order a product online that never arrives, or the seller never receives the money for the product. The product might not be the same thing described on the website, or the seller might also use your personal data to commit a crime. Always order from trusted sites and vendors to avoid online shopping fraud.
How to Avoid Fraud in the Digital Age
- Vamp up the security on your computer. Most people who own a laptop or desktop computer are aware that a malware protection program should always be active. Still, virus protection programs can be remotely disabled by a hacker or virus, so it’s a good idea to install a security patch to make sure there are no “weak” spots in your antivirus protection. To find out more about security patches, click here.
- Shred any documents you need to throw away. Bank statements and bills can include sensitive information, such as the account number of a bank account or a date of birth. Sometimes, this is all scammers may need to commit fraud. Never throw away an entire document that includes sensitive information.
- Find a safe place for your important documents. This includes credit cards, forms of ID like passports or work permits, tax forms, and other types of financial records. A lock box or a briefcase with a locked combination is a good place to store these.
- Always check your statements. Broke college students tend to be scared to check their bank accounts for fear of how much money they may have spent. However, it’s important to check all your transactions to make sure an unauthorized one hasn’t gone through without your notice. While most banks will likely alert you to suspicious activity on your account, it’s better safe than sorry.
- Keep an eye on your credit score. A drop in your credit score – particularly if you don’t have a line of credit established – is a tell-tale sign of fraud. com provides a free, no strings attached credit score service owned and operated by the national credit bureau. All you need to do is input your Social Security number and date of birth for identification purposes.