How your child can avoid identity theft while away at university

Going away to university can have a mix of feelings for you and your child alike – they are fleeing the nest (maybe permanently now they have a taste for it). For them, it may be a welcome chance to break free into independence and with it, some mistakes along the way.

Here are some tips to help them avoid identity theft (some you can apply to yourself, too):

1. If they have a communal hallway, it’s a good idea to have important documents such as bank and credit card statements sent by recorded delivery or delivered to a family home address. If documents can be accessed electronically, then that’s the better option. Redirect mail if you move so personal information can’t be accessed by fraudsters.

2. Password protect all digital devices, including smart phones. Use a combination that isn’t obvious (date of birth is too easy to crack, for example).

3. Don’t store PINs and passwords on mobile phones and laptops, as thieves will be able to use this information to access personal information – it will be like Christmas come early. If you must, try storing it in a secure way…like a very long string of letters and numbers that are not clearly worked out.

4. Try not to access online banking and secure sites in internet cafes – if it’s unavoidable, it’s important not to save your password (most browsers ask this these days) and make sure to log out of the site rather than just closing the window when finished.

5. Keep personal documents secure – when going out make sure to take only to take those essentials documents.

6. Never share your password or PINs to a friend. Trusting friends you have only acquired with important information like this is far too risky.

7. Don’t give out all personal information (like date of birth and National Insurance number) on CVs when posting it online or making it available to others – you can always provide more information at a later date.

8. Buying online can save any student money, but it’s important to be careful when giving out financial derails on less known websites. Check that websites have security locks to reduce the risk of them being hacked into.

9. Always check bank and credit card statements carefully against receipts to ensure fraudulent activity has not taken place. If anything looks unfamiliar, check with the bank.

10. Check your credit report regularly to ensure there has been no unauthorised activity. If there are any strange accounts listed that you know nothing about, be sure to query them immediately with the company listed – the sooner you spot anything, the sooner you can take action.

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Written by Joycellyn Akuffo

Founder and editor of www.motherswhowork.co.uk, a mother of two wonderful children, wife, entrepreneur (check out www.geekschool.co.uk) and journalist.

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