Personal information is a valuable target for criminals but, while we can’t protect ourselves every second of the day, there are some things you can do to decrease the likelihood of yours becoming compromised. These helpful tips are just a few things to be aware of and practice. If you would like to learn more about protecting yourself against identity theft and fraud, please check out the links at the bottom of this section.
- Protect your social security number - Don’t carry your social security card and, before giving your social security number out, be sure that the requesting party is reliable and trustworthy.
- Password practices - It's a good idea to have different passwords for all of your accounts so if one is compromised, your others should be safe. Use at least eight characters including a mixture of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols whenever possible and never use the same password twice.
- Keep up-to-date security on your computer - Make sure your computer’s firewall and antivirus programs are always on and running the latest version.
- Secure websites - Verify the websites you visit are secure and have “https” in the address bar or have the padlock symbol to indicate an encrypted site. Sensitive browsing, like banking or shopping, should only be done on a device you own and on a network you trust.
- Monitor statements - Always check credit card and financial statements to ensure there are no unauthorized charges or withdrawals on the accounts. Also be sure to check your credit report at least annually to verify there are no fraudulent accounts opened in your name.
- Beware of “Phishing” and “SMSishing” - Scam artists are always trying new tricks to get you to give out your personal or financial information. It can happen over the phone, by text message, by email or even through the regular mail. Scammers often pretend they are financial organizations, stores or government agencies to fool you. The bottom line is, do not give out your information unless you're absolutely sure the source is legitimate.
- Social Networks - With the growing use of social networking sites, thieves have a lot more opportunities to steal your information. Be careful what you share on these sites and always be wary of who you are sharing it with. Even information that may seem irrelevant to you may help criminals gain access to more valuable data.
- Disposing of documents - Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements and expired cards to prevent “dumpster divers” from getting your sensitive information.
Utilize Online and Mobile Services
- With all of today's convenient payment options, it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of your transactions and available balances. Set u p online banking for your account to view and track balances, and always keep an eye on your money.
- Utilize payment and b alance alerts to notify yourself of upcoming payment due dates and avoid overdrawing your account and getting charged fees. These alerts are available through GCU’s online banking or app.
- Use electronic funds transfer services. You can digitally transfer funds quickly and easily, and GCU offers multiple types of tra nsfer services that allow you to transfer money within your membership accounts or directly to another person or institution.
- Make depositing checks simple and convenient through mobile app services like mobile deposit. These help make ma naging accounts easier for a busy student who may not always have the time to stop into a branch to deposit a check.
- Proper budgeting is a very important part of most students’ financial lives. There are many online budgeting tools and apps available to help with this, like GCU’s Student Budget Calculator
Establishing and Building Credit
Establishing or building credit can seem like a daunting task. Especially in today’s world, it's crucial to have good credit to obtain things like low insurance rates, an auto loan, a mortgage or even for renting an apartment. Unfortunately, simply paying your phone or utility bill on time each month is not enough. Let GCU help you with some resources and information that may be able to help you understand how to build good credit. A lot of places recommend to get a credit card, so make sure to educate yourself on what to look for before choosing the right one for you. And of course, make sure to check your credit report annually to ensure there are no errors or issues that could be affecting your credit score and future!
Student Discounts and Savings
Saving money might seem impossible while living on a tight budget, but it doesn’t have to be! Many retailers offer a discount to students — just ask and be prepared to show your student ID!
- 100 + Stores that give a student discounts , thanks to the staff writers at BestCollegesOnline.com.
- The DMV provides pointers for Good Student Auto Insurance Discounts .
- Need to order textbooks for school? Don’t sweat it. Chegg can help compare prices.
- Stash your “change” even when using a debit card. Not a debit card user? Save your change and put it into a savings account when it is full.
- Opt out of a campus meal plan, if you are able to.
- Buy a bike and commute to and from campus—avoids costly parking expenses and the hassle of trying to find a spot.
- Need more College Savings hacks?