As parents prepare to send their kids off to college this fall, they may be more worried about facing empty nest syndrome than identity theft. But when your child starts college, there are other things to consider besides how you’ll spend your childfree time.
The Federal Trade Commission says that 18- to 29-year-olds account for 24% of all identity thefts. Many of these occur at colleges, where kids who are away from home for the first time may not be aware of how to protect themselves from identity theft and other common campus crimes. They also likely do not realize the potential lasting impact of having their identities stolen.
The Hanover Insurance Group recommends that parents talk with their kids about identity theft – both how to prevent it, and how it can affect their future. College-aged kids might not be too concerned about their credit histories, but once they graduate and try to get a job, they will care much more about their credit scores.
Here are the Hanover Groups tips for parents and college students:
Students should not carry their social security cards or numbers on their person.
Be careful of programs that allow peers to share computers and may allow them to see each other’s personal information.
Don’t lend your credit card to a friend and don’t tell anyone your PIN, no matter how good of friends you are.
Kids carry more valuables than in the past
Other things to be on the lookout for are loss, theft or property damage. The Hanover Group says the average college student’s personal property is valued at $5,000 to $10,000. Smartphones, laptops and other mobile devices are carried everywhere on campus, and loss, theft or damage is common.
The Hanover Insurance Group urges parents to make sure these items are insured, either under their home insurance policy or separate renter’s insurance for the student. There is also technology coverage available, if you just want to insure your student’s high-value electronics.
Take an inventory
When packing up your child for college, the Hanover Group stresses the importance of keeping track of what’s going to school. Take pictures of expensive items and take note of model numbers, serial numbers, and the dollar value of the items. That way you will be prepared in case you need to file an insurance claim.
Another good thing to send with your college-bound kids is a reloadable prepaid card. More secure than cash and good anywhere that takes credit cards, a prepaid card can be refilled as needed. Parents can also keep track of their student’s spending by checking their activity online.