Cyber Security Tips When In-Store Shopping

Technology has provided additional convenience while shopping, but taking a few safety precautions with your devices while out and about will provide a more safe and secure shopping experience.

Stores and service providers are beginning to track your whereabouts when your devices are within a certain range.  To prevent these business from accessing your device, disable the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth features when not in use.

Public Wi-Fi connections are targets for identity fraud.  Be wary of completing any transactions over these open connections.  This includes accessing any bank or credit information and logging into any email or financial accounts.

Basic and simple precautions can make your in-store shopping experience more safe and secure.  For more information on cyber security awareness, contact the UWW Financial Literacy Center.


Summer Finance Checklist for Students

Whether this is your first year of college, last year, or somewhere in between, summer is a great time for you (and your parents) to get your financial planning in order.  College students often find themselves living within tight budgets, but pre-planning during the summer months may help with daily financial decisions when away at school.

  • Figure out and identify how you’re going to pay for tuition and other college expenses.  There are billing and payment dates each semester that need to be taken seriously.
  • Create and stick to a budget.  List each income source (scholarships, grants, work study, job, savings, parents, federal loans, private loans, etc.) and estimated expenses. Common expenses often overlooked are course/lab fees, daily toiletries and supplies, extracurricular activities, traveling home during breaks and holidays, and gift-giving.  Any amount leftover at the end of the month should be place into savings for future emergencies.
  • Open a checking account.  Consider opening a checking account and using a debit card.  Cash is convenient, but easy to spend.  Checking accounts keep your money safe, and they help track where your money is going.
  • Apply for a credit card (when ready).  It’s a great way to start building credit as long as you use the card wisely and pay off the balance each month.
  • Obtain appropriate insurance.  Every family and household is unique.  Contact your insurance provider for information on specific policies that work for you.
    • Personal article policies for items like student electronics, musical instruments, sports equipment, and jewelry are offered by insurance companies.
    • If living off-campus, renters insurance can be obtained to protect against property loss and liability.
    • If living on-campus, verify parent homeowners policy coverage for extension to your dorm room.
    • Auto insurance rates may vary depending if you drive while at school or leave your vehicle at home.  In addition, check for student discounts (resident student, good student, anti-theft).
  • Become financially organized.  Determine how you are going to keep track of financial records, bills, and bank statements in order to maintain records and pay bills on time.  Consider an accordian file, envelopes, or manilla folders in a secure location.  Being organized will help avoid late fees and damage to credit scores.
  • Be vigilant of identity theft dangers.  Password protect your computers and phones.  Store important documents (birth certificate, social security card, etc.) in a safe and locked location.  Be cautious with information posted on social media sites.

While the first day of classes is just over a month away, the days of summer are starting to fade.  Consider this checklist when readying yourself to come/return this fall.  Visit the Financial Literacy Center‘s website and like our Facebook page for more information and resources on financial topics.

Protecting Your Identity

A study by Javelin Strategy & Research identified 16.7 million victims of identity fraud in 2017. This was a record high number of victims, making detection more important than ever before. Because of clean credit and living in close quarters, college students are no exception to being victims of identity theft. Although the precautions listed below are aimed specifically at college students, in general, they apply to all ages when helping to avoid identity theft.

Identity Fraud Precautions 

  • Paperwork.  Bank statements, credit card offers, and any paperwork containing account information and social security numbers should be shredded or destroyed.
  • Dorm Room.  Foot traffic from new and old friends, both in and around your ‘home away from home’ is inevitable. Be sure to leave your important documents (social security card, birth certificate, etc) at home or in a secure, locked space. Mail should not be left out where others can rifle through or gain access.
  • Electronic devices.  Smartphones, tablets, and laptops should be locked or password protected when not in use. Never store personal information, account login information, and confidential data on your computer’s hard drive.
  • Passwords. Avoid using obvious passwords, such as your birthday, phone number, anniversary, addresses, or names of pet. Strengthen your passwords by using an 8-12 character combination of small and capital letters, symbols, and numbers. Create different passwords for each account.
  • WiFi. Never shop or check your bank or credit account information using a public hotspot or connection. These activities should occur when on a password-protected Internet connection.
  • Secure Websites. Use secure websites for purchasing goods and services. Often times, the URL will start with https://. Always log out of secure sites, including online banking apps and programs. Check your website browser settings to be sure it does not save login information.
  • Credit Card Offers.  Credit card applications appear in student mailboxes and at various campus events. When ready to apply, use a secure website from a private, password-protected Internet connection or in-person at the financial institution.
  • Social Media. Adjust your privacy settings to make it more difficult for people to view your information or post to your page. Avoid over-sharing personal information when posting to social media accounts.
  • Phishing. Avoid emails attempting to ‘phish’ for information. They look legitimate, but when clicked, redirect you to another site where your personal information may be recorded.

Bottom line:  be cautious with your personal and private information. For more information on protecting your identity, access the Financial Resources located on the UWW Financial Literacy Center’s website.