With the school season starting again, education is job number one for students and parents alike. A proper education includes an education in personal finance, and one of the best ways to start is to learn how to protect yourself against scams.
You can and should learn fast, too, because scams can become more common during the back-to-school buying season. Here are some practical suggestions on how to avoid credit and debit card fraudsters:
- Only patronize known retailers.
- Avoid jackpot online deals that offer items like $3,000 laptops for $400. These are often scams.
- "Good PC hygiene" cannot be overstated for every handheld device, laptop, and phone. Anti-virus and anti-malware programs are key to staying safer online.
- Avoid pooling or sharing credit card information in a dorm setting. There is no reason for students to share credit or share their logins and access to their online accounts with each other.
- Watch out for "card cracking," or "card popping," which targets younger people in particular via their frequent port of call – a social media site. It may be a post announcing a contest, but soon you're being asked for your banking information. That's it – run away, it's a scam.
- Make sure to monitor each of your credit card accounts for unfamiliar transactions, and report any suspicious account activity to your card issuer directly.
- Check with your financial institution: Many credit card companies now offer online fraud alerts that warn the card issuer of any unusual activity, and several card issuers also provide credit card controls that enable you to literally turn your payment cards on and off at will.
In all cases, the key thing is for the student to be paying attention and proactive – qualities known to be helpful in other areas of study!
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