Graduate Without Unwanted Debt
Spring Means Graduation Season is Here Again
This Spring’s graduates have enough to worry about with a reported record of $35,051 in student loan debt, on average. The last thing they need as they head out into the job pool and look to start building their lives is to have accumulated mysterious debt or had their credit ruined as victims of identity theft or fraud.
Far from being a scare tactic, just last year the Federal Trade Commission found that the highest reported age group for identity theft is 20-29, making up 20 percent (or one in five) of the complaints.
Graduates need to be aware of some of the issues they may face, as well as what they can do to decrease the likelihood of becoming identity theft victims.
What Should You Do Before Graduating?
The first thing you need to do, and should do regularly, is run a credit check. It is important that you know how your credit looks when you are going to be looking for a place to live, or buying a new car. This also lets you see any lines of credit that you currently have, and if there are any inconsistencies on your report, such as a number of credit inquiries that you did not initiate, or lines of credit that you were unaware existed. You are entitled to at least one free credit report a year. The FTC recommends going to AnnualCreditReport.com for your free yearly check up. Also, there are sites like FreeCreditReport.com that will give you your credit information as often as you like if you’re willing to sit through video ads and click through advertising links.
Something else you should get into the habit of is looking at your banking and checking information at least once a week, and also getting into the habit of keeping up to date with any credit cards you may have. Identity theft and fraud can happen at any time, especially in an era of digital transactions, so diligence is key when maintaining banking and credit accounts. Any suspicious behavior will post almost immediately and you should be as quick in reporting it. If either your banking accounts or credit cards are hacked or stolen, make sure to first contact the institution and let them know what has happened and file a fraud report. Having your information shut down as quickly as possible will keep further damage from taking place, this also will allow the institution you’re dealing with start the process of reporting and recovery right away. Next, call the police and file a report. This will work to help them start investigating the theft or fraud, as well as give you documentation if you need it when dealing with the credit companies. Finally, contact the FTC to file a fraud report.
Finally, protect yourself online and on your digital devices. Do not give out personal information when using unsecured wi-fi networks, make sure not to save personal information on your cell phone, and keep updating your passwords. This kind of information is used all of the time because people are careless with their belongings or make their passwords too easy to hack. Daily tasks are becoming easier and more efficient through the usage of smart phones and other technology, but they’re being taken for granted. Again, diligence when maintaining your online and mobile health is important and a key to keeping yourself safe when it comes to identity theft.
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