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Kansas State University
Counseling Services
1105 Sunset Ave, Rm 101
Manhattan, KS 66502

Hours:
Monday - Friday:  8am-5pm

Phone:
785-532-6927
785-532-3932 (fax)
K-State.edu/counseling
counsel@k-state.edu

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It Can Happen to You!
Avoid Scams and Protect Your Identity

By Lacey Solheid

Imagine. You're at home with your computer open attempting to do homework, but distracted by Project Runway playing on the TV. Your roommate is in the kitchen making dinner. It's just a normal Thursday night. All of a sudden, there's a knock at your door. Neither of you were anticipating a visitor, but decide to answer the door anyway. Outside is a door-to-door salesman that flatters you with compliments and explains a long detailed story about why he is selling magazines. Before you know it you've paid him $70 for a subscription to Taste of Home, a magazine that neither you or your roommate would ever read. The salesman takes off with your money and you never receive your magazine.

This sort of thing happens all of the time to college students. It's highly important that you avoid scams like the one above and also protect your identity. Many of these criminals make off with loads of money or use a stolen identity, and victims don't realize what has happened to them until it's too late.

Avoiding Scams and Con Artists

To avoid situations like the one above, don't answer your door if you're not expecting a visitor. This is the best way to avoid a face-to-face scam. Many times the con artists will talk very quickly and share an elaborate story. They may get pushy if you say no, if this happens go back into your house and lock the doors. There is nothing wrong in telling people no.

If you rent a house or an apartment, know your landlord's policies for solicitation. Many apartment buildings forbid solicitation despite people having a permit from the city. If this is the case, contact your landlord about suspicious activity like solicitation.

With new technology, comes new ways to scam people. There are also online scams that happen all of the time as well. Do not give out personal information or give money to individuals or organizations that contact you over email, unless they are people that you know. If it is a guy asking for money to help his activist friend in England, it is probably not real.

Protect Your Identity

Identity theft is no longer just steeling someone's wallet or purse. Many people have had their identity stolen over the internet as well. Here are a few tips to help you protect your identity not just at home but online as well.

Try to keep the amount of personal information you keep in your dorm or house to a minimum. There's probably a lot of people that will filter in and out of your living space. It's best to keep the personal information you have stored in your dorm room to a minimum. Shred documents that may hold information you don't want to share—this includes bank statements, school papers, etc.

Do not save your passwords or information on computers. When using websites that require you to log in (i.e. email, online banking, etc.), be sure to log out when you are finished using their services. Also, change passwords every few months to avoid having your accounts hacked. Have your passwords memorized, too. If you must write them down, keep them hidden or locked away in a safety box.

When ordering products from a website, make sure you are on a secure server. If the website starts with "https://" it is a secure site. There will also be a logo indicating a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

If You Think This Has Happened to You...

If you believe yourself to be a victim of either identity theft or a scam, be sure to contact the police to report it. There may be other victims out there that have contacted them as well.

Talk to your bank and put a hold on any checks or credit cards that may be involved. They will be able to monitor if your card or check were used. It is also important to take advantage of any security precautions your bank may have.

Information taken from:
http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2012/10/02/how-to-protect-against-identity-theft-in-college
http://idtheft.about.com/od/identitytheft101/a/College_IDTheft.htm

 

Avoid Scams and Protect Your Identity (pdf)