Controlling your spending, keeping your credit usage minimal and paying on time are important to maintain good credit. Nevertheless, you must also protect yourself from fraud and ID theft to ensure that your personal credit will always be in good shape.
If you are a student who owns a credit card, you are at a greater risk. Take a look at the following tips on how you can defend yourself:
Check your credit card statements. Check your monthly credit card statements to make sure that there are no unauthorized charges. If you find unfamiliar transactions, do not hesitate to inform your credit card issuer right away. As a consumer and cardholder, you have the right to dispute unauthorized charges.
Know where to call. If your credit card gets lost or stolen, you must call your issuer immediately so that your account can be blocked against unauthorized users. It’s best to write down the telephone number of your issuer’s customer hotline where you can access it instantly in case you need to.
Make sure that your records are updated. If you changed your address, inform your credit card company immediately. If you do not receive your credit card bill on time, call up your issuer and verify if they have the correct billing address in their records. ID thieves may request for a change in the billing address in an attempt to delay your awareness about their fraudulent transactions.
Protect your banking information. Be very cautious when giving out your bank account or credit card information. Identity thieves use different tactics to steal personal information. You may receive an email or a phone call asking you to “verify” your account by providing confidential details. Keep in mind that a legitimate bank or credit card issuer will never verify customer information in this manner.
Check your credit report. Once every six months, order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion). Doing so will enable you to evaluate all your accounts and ensure that all information in your file are correct. Sometimes, you may find errors in your file and you must request for correction from the bureau that issued your report.
Shred financial documents. Don’t throw away any piece of paper that contains your personal and banking information without first shredding it into small pieces. ID thieves do search trash bins to steal precious information and many have been victimized in this way.
Read the fine print. Before signing up a deal, whether it’s a new student credit card or a student loan, see to it that you have read and understood the complete terms and conditions. Don’t just scan the page. You’ll want to make sure that everything has been disclosed in the agreement.
Check the issuer’s background and reputation. Not all credit cards for students advertised in the market are issued by legitimate companies. You may come across credit card offers from fraudulent sources. To avoid being a victim, be sure to do your own investigation regarding the background and legitimacy of the issuer.