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Preventing Identity Theft: Tips for College Students

With students returning to college campuses after a record-breaking year of cyber crimes against schools, the Better Business Bureau has recommendations for minimizing the risk of identity theft.

(TNS) — Thousands of college students are returning to Erie-area campuses this month, many of them for the first time — or at least the first time since March 2020.

Though these students have a laundry list of new responsibilities, including having to do their own laundry, they should be aware of their risk for identity theft.

College students are at an increased risk of someone stealing their personal information. Many of them are living away from their parents for the first time in their lives, and they haven't been exposed to the various methods of identity theft.

The Better Business Bureau offered these tips for college students to reduce their risk of having their personal information stolen.

Send important or sensitive mail to your family home or a post office box. School mailboxes are not always secure and often can be accessed easily in a dorm or apartment.

Store important documents in a safe place. This includes your Social Security card, passport, and bank and credit card statements.

Shred credit card offers and any paper documents that have sensitive financial information rather than just tossing them out.

Never lend your credit or debit card to anyone. Don't allow friends to borrow your card or co-sign a loan for them to buy an expensive item like a flatscreen TV.

When using an ATM or credit card machine, don't let anyone look over your shoulder to see your personal identification number.

Guard your passwords and don't give them to anyone. Use strong passwords with capital letters and punctuation marks, and don't use the same password for all sites.

Watch for phishing. Be vigilant and be careful of clicking on links in emails and texts; verify the content with the website.

Make sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus and spyware software. Always install any updates and patches to your computer's operating system or browser software.

These will help keep your computer safe from any new advances by identity thieves online.

Always check your credit or debit card statements closely for any suspicious activity. The sooner you identify any potential fraud, the less you'll suffer in the long run.

Be careful when shopping online. Check out businesses on Look for the BBB Accredited Business seal and click on the seals to confirm that they are legitimate.

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. Look for any suspicious activity or inaccuracies. You can do this for free by visiting

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