In 2010, 8.1 million Americans became victims of identity theft, according to the 2011 Identity Fraud Survey conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research and sponsored by BBB. The average mean cost of identity theft is $631 and the average time to resolve identity fraud is 33 hours.
“It is important for students to be vigilant in monitoring bank and credit card statements to spot unauthorized activity,” said Toby Barfield, president and CEO of BBB serving Eastern North Carolina. “Students should sign up for security alerts on their accounts and have them sent to their mobile phones so they will know if any changes have been made.”
BBB recommends that college students take the following seven steps to fight identity theft on campus:
Send sensitive mail to your parents’ home or a post office box. School mailboxes are not always secure and often can be accessed easily in a dorm or apartment.
Important documents should be stored under lock and key. This includes your Social Security card, passport and bank statements. Shred credit card offers and any paper documents that have sensitive financial information rather than just tossing them out.
Make sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus and spyware software. Always install any updates to your computer’s operating system or browser software, which help keep your computer safe from any new advances by identity thieves online.
Always check your credit card statements closely for any suspicious activity. The sooner you identify any potential fraud, the less you will suffer in the long run.
Check out unfamiliar Web sites with BBB. Look for the BBB Accredited Business Seal and click on it to check out a company’s Business Review.
Check your credit report at least once a year. You are entitled to one free report a year from each of the three reporting bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. You can do this for free by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
For additional information on securing your identity, visit bbb.org.
About BBB serving Eastern North Carolina
Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit corporation serving 33 counties in eastern North Carolina. The organization is funded primarily by BBB Accredited Business fees from more than 3,000 local businesses and professional firms. BBB promotes integrity, consumer confidence and business ethics through business self-regulation in the local marketplace. Services provided by BBB include reports on companies and charitable organizations, general monitoring of advertising in the marketplace, consumer/business education programs and dispute resolution services. All services are provided at no cost to the public, with the occasional exception of mediation and arbitration. Visit bbb.org.