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Financial Friday: Do I really need to check my credit report?

By Valrie Chambers, Ph.D., and Betty Thorne, Ph.D.

Why should I check my credit report?

Many college students fail to check their credit report, claiming they have no need to do so since they don’t have any credit cards. These students fail to realize that their identity already may have been stolen, and someone else has opened credit cards in their name. Or, perhaps a fraudster has opened new checking accounts, made purchases or even committed a crime using their name!

College students were identified as a significant demographic group in danger of becoming victims of identity theft, according to Javelin Strategy and Research in 2014. The rates of familiar fraud (identity stolen by someone the victim knows) and new-account fraud were higher among students than any other consumer segment.

Jonathan Berr, in his article “College Students Face a High Risk of Identity Theft,” advises students to guard their personal information, be careful sending documents by mail, avoid public Wi-Fi and be savvy on social media.

We all should check the information on our credit reports, which can be obtained free of charge once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com. This information is different from simply obtaining a credit score. If your credit report includes fraudulent addresses, phone numbers, email addresses or other incorrect personal information, you may be an identity-theft victim.

 

Valrie Chambers, Ph.D., is chair of the Accounting Department and associate professor of taxation and accounting. Betty Thorne, Ph.D., is a professor of statistics and the Christian R. Lindback Chair of Business Administration. They write Financial Fridays to bolster students’ financial wellness, including preventing financial mistakes, safeguarding their assets and identity, and thinking critically about financial decisions. For questions, contact Valrie Chambers at Valrie.chambers@stetson.edu

 

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