Going off to College

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There are many stress factors this time of year for parents of college freshmen. There’s dealing with an empty house, coordinating when your son or daughter can visit home, and trying to plan for the next family vacation over the summer.

Before you get engrossed in all of the above, I suggest making sure your son or daughter doesn’t fall into one trap that’s rarely considered but can hit college kids very hard — identity theft. The annual survey of consumer fraud from Javelin Strategy & Research found that 8.1 million people were victims of identity theft in 2010.

To minimize being a victim, among many factors, teach them to:

• Monitor financial and credit union statements regularly to look for bogus charges to an account.

• Take advantage of the free credit report that every American citizen is entitled to once a year.

• Shred mail they won’t use, like pre-approved credit cards, and don’t post personal information online.

• Don’t leave mail around, nor let it build up in the dorm mailbox.

• Strongly question anyone who asks for their Social Security number and birth dates, don’t just hand it over. Some thieves pose as landlords to collect personal data.

• Avoid using personal information as passwords for any account.

These ideas can save even more parental stress, like when a student graduates with a fraudulent credit history and is forced to move back home because their identity has been stolen.

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