While perusing the aisles on a recent trip to Barnes & Noble, I saw a table of college-centric books— a couple of which focused on safety on campus.
Of course, that got me thinking about identity and financial safety, and I wanted to share some tips that Wells Fargo has offered recently:
- Forward It: The Better Business Bureau recommends having sensitive mail sent to a permanent address such as a parent’s home or a P.O. Box. This should include all financial and medical information, which may contain confidential details. Ask if a paperless statement is an option so you can access account information online instead.
- Don’t "Over Share" It: Social media is increasingly popular, but it’s a good idea to keep personal information private. Fraudsters can use personal information such as birth date, mother’s maiden name and pet’s name, to help gain access to an account. Also, it’s a good idea to keep other information private such as mobile and home phone numbers; email address; and dorm, apartment and home addresses.
- Doubt It: Use a healthy dose of skepticism if someone – claiming to be from your bank or another legitimate company – calls, texts or sends an email asking for personal information. Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails from strangers.
- Sign Up for It: Consider signing up for online and mobile banking. This will enable you to monitor your accounts regularly, when it’s convenient for you. Research has shown electronic banking is the quickest way to detect account fraud. Many financial service providers offer online and mobile banking.
- Ask for It: Ask your financial services provider if it offers alerts, which can quickly detect unauthorized use of a bank account. Customized alerts can also be set up in advance. Alerts can be sent to an email address or mobile device based on criteria you select, such as when an account balance drops below a certain amount or your credit card is charged more than a certain amount.
- Lock It: Secure your laptop and desktop computer with a password, firewall and anti-virus software so no one else can access your files, and with a desktop cable lock so no one can remove it. For your mobile devices, be sure to use the keypad lock or phone lock function when they are not in use. These functions password-protect your device so that no one else can use it to view your information. Also be sure to store your device in a secure location.
- Shred It: Use a shredder and shred all unwanted credit card offers, insurance or loan applications, bills, credit card receipts and documents that contain your personal information. Thieves steal information from many sources, including the mail and even garbage cans, and can use it to help gain access to financial accounts.
- Protect It: Consider using a room safe, or secure online safe for copies of important documents. Be sure to keep any credit cards and documents that contain personal information locked up when not in use, such as a passport, Social Security Card and your bank statement.
- Hide It: Never leave a wallet or purse in plain sight in a dorm room. The same goes for documents with personal or account information.
- Learn More About It: Ask your financial services provider what other services it offers to protect your personal and account information.