College students: Take statistics — dont be a statistic
State agency offers tips on staying financially safe and solvent
Most parents want their children to attend college, not the school of hard knocks, and arming incoming college freshmen with financial know-how can prevent some hard, money-losing lessons.
The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services recently released a list of tips, outlining how the higher education-bound can stay financially safe. The department says it is the largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency in the state.
Personal informationWhen it comes to personal information, above all, thieves want your Social Security number. Its best to leave your Social Security card and birth certificate at home with parents or locked up in your abode. Do not share details on social media such as your home address, birth date and family members and pets names. Phishers will impersonate companies or your bank to ferret out personal information because it often is used for logins and security questions on bank accounts. Regularly update virus protection and firewall security on computers, laptops and tablets.
Be wary of pop-ups that offer protection and security or ones that remind you to update it could be an imposter, the list stated.Then there are the paper thieves. National Endowment for Financial Educations money management tips include shredding sensitive, unessential financial documents.
Thieves often go through the trash looking for intact numbers, so they can raid your accounts, according to NEFEs booklet, 40 Money Management Tips Every College Freshman Should Know.If personal information is stolen or lost, file a police report and obtain the report number or a copy of it. Also, contact your bank, credit union, credit card companies, cellphone provider and utility providers. Theft isnt a rarity on college campuses. On campus at Portland State University in 2011, there were 41 burglaries and three motor vehicle thefts (down from 13 in 2010), according to PSU records.
Lake Oswego Administrative Sgt. Tom Hamann said students shouldnt leave their book bags or backpacks behind in their vehicles, because the bags often contain credit cards, identification and electronic devices. Depositing a bag in the trunk isnt safe either, Hamann said.
A thief will just watch you put it in your trunk and then break a window and pop the trunk, he said.Sometimes, you may not even realize a purloiner has swiped your identity. The Department of Consumer Business Services recommends: Carefully read your financial statements (bank, credit card and cellphone) for any charges you did not make.
Credit and credit cardsCredit card companies may jack up the annual percentage rate after luring customers in with a low introductory rate. Pay the full credit balance each month, and satisfy more than the minimum amount each month, or you could find yourself forking over more in interest than you originally paid for an item. Pointing to fees and interest, the tips list says: Do you understand how much it will cost if you dont pay off your balance every month, or you get a cash advance or transfer the balance from one credit card to another? Wisely handling credit card bills leads to a good credit score, which is important when renting an apartment, buying a car or taking a loan out on a house. An employer may look at an applicants credit score during the hiring process, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Your credit report has information about where you live, how you pay your bills and whether you have filed for bankruptcy, the commissions website says.A free credit report detailing your credit rating, accounts and bill-paying history is available annually through the three credit-reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. To obtain a copy, visit annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228. Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services Division of Finance and Corporate Securities offers a list of companies that help with debt management and budgeting. For more information, call 503-378-4140.
InsuranceThough health insurance policies cover you on your parents plan until age 26, insurance may not cover out-of-town nonemergency care and out-of-network doctors and hospitals. In January, most residents of the United States will be required to have health insurance. For more details, go to coveroregon.com. It is key to establish how much insurance covers if personal items, such as bicycles or computers, are stolen. It may not cover expensive items such as jewelry and computers.
In either case, make sure you understand the deductible amount you must pay before your policy pays for any loss, the list says.Its a good idea to take an inventory of possessions, taking photos of items and compiling a list detailing how much each item cost and its model and serial number. Students may be covered on their parents auto insurance plans, but rates may increase in a new location or because of changes to vehicle use for example, using the old station wagon every day at an out-of-state college.
For the full list of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services tips, visit oregon.gov/DCBS/docs/college_financial_tips.pdf.JW_DISQUS_ADD_A_COMMENT