SAN FRANCISCO - July 26, 2011
When heading back to school this autumn, college students will be thinking about scheduling classes, buying books and meeting friends. Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) advises students to add one more important activity to their back-to-school list: safeguarding their personal and financial information to reduce their risk of fraud and identify theft.
Research conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research (2010) revealed it takes people ages 18 to 24 nearly twice as many days to detect fraud compared to other age groups, making them fraud victims for longer periods of time. According to the study, young adults are less likely to monitor their bank accounts regularly and also are the least likely age group to take advantage of monitoring programs offered by financial institutions.
Young adults are also more likely to fall victim to fraud and identity theft by people they know. Living in a communal situation such as a dorm, where other students or strangers might easily access a young adults' room, also increases the need for vigilance.
"We encourage all of our customers to take advantage of services that allow them to monitor their accounts regularly - in whatever way they choose - whether reviewing online statements, using mobile banking to see a snapshot of account information, viewing account information at the ATM or receiving alerts,” said Secil Watson, senior vice president, Wells Fargo Internet Services Group. "Wells Fargo is committed to providing our customers with the resources they need to protect their information and reduce the risk of fraud.”
To help prevent fraud and identity theft, Wells Fargo recommends these 10 tips for college students:
1. Forward It: The Better Business Bureau recommends having sensitive mail sent to a permanent address such as a parent’s home or a P.O. Box. This should include all financial and medical information, which may contain confidential details. Ask if a paperless statement is an option so you can access account information online instead.
2. Don’t "Over Share" It: Social media is increasingly popular, but it's a good idea to keep personal information private. Fraudsters can use personal information such as birth date, mother’s maiden name and pet’s name, to help gain access to an account. Also, it's a good idea to keep other information private such as mobile and home phone numbers; email address; and dorm, apartment and home addresses.
3. Doubt It: Use a healthy dose of skepticism if someone – claiming to be from your bank or another legitimate company – calls, texts or sends an email asking for personal information. Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails from strangers.
4. Sign Up for It: Consider signing up for online and mobile banking. This will enable you to monitor your accounts regularly, when it's convenient for you. Research has shown electronic banking is the quickest way to detect account fraud. Many financial service providers offer online and mobile banking.
5. Ask for It: Ask your financial services provider if it offers alerts, which can quickly detect unauthorized use of a bank account. Customized alerts can also be set up in advance. Alerts can be sent to an email address or mobile device based on criteria you select, such as when an account balance drops below a certain amount or your credit card is charged more than a certain amount.
6. Lock It: Secure your laptop and desktop computer with a password, firewall and anti-virus software so no one else can access your files, and with a desktop cable lock so no one can remove it. For your mobile devices, be sure to use the keypad lock or phone lock function when they are not in use. These functions password-protect your device so that no one else can use it to view your information. Also be sure to store your device in a secure location.
7. Shred It: Use a shredder and shred all unwanted credit card offers, insurance or loan applications, bills, credit card receipts and documents that contain your personal information. Thieves steal information from many sources, including the mail and even garbage cans, and can use it to help gain access to financial accounts.
8. Protect It: Consider using a room safe, or secure online safe for copies of important documents. Be sure to keep any credit cards and documents that contain personal information locked up when not in use, such as a passport, Social Security Card and your bank statement.
9. Hide It: Never leave a wallet or purse in plain sight in a dorm room. The same goes for documents with personal or account information.
10. Learn More About It: Ask your financial services provider what other services it offers to protect your personal and account information.
Wells Fargo provides quick and easy access to online educational tools and resources through its Student LoanDownSM blog and Financial Education Center. Wells Fargo also provides Hands on Banking®, a free, interactive educational program that explains the basics of money management, and features lessons on how customers can protect themselves and keep their information secure. The program, which earned the Parent Tested, Parent Approved seal of approval in 2009, also offers a course specifically for young adults.
Located on Wells Fargo’s public web site and available to everyone, Wells Fargo's Fraud Information Center (https://www.wellsfargo.com/privacy_security/fraud) provides fraud prevention tips and resolution tools, such as the Identity Theft Repair Kit. This kit includes a checklist for resolving identity theft and resolution worksheets with phone numbers for Wells Fargo, credit bureaus and other agencies.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.3 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 9,000 stores, 12,000 ATMs, the Internet (wellsfargo.com and wachovia.com), and other distribution channels across North America and internationally. With approximately 275,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in America. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 23 on Fortune’s 2011 rankings of America’s largest corporations. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy all our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially.
About Education Financial Services
Wells Fargo Education Financial Services serves more than 1.9 million student and family customers in all 50 states and has been in the student lending business for 43 years helping customers make smart borrowing decisions to finance education. Education Financial Services provides customers with financial tips and tools to keep their finances on track while in school and prepare them financially for when they finish college. Wells Fargo markets its education products to colleges and universities, directly to consumers and through Wells Fargo Bank and Wachovia Bank. As part of the organization’s commitment to education, during 2010 Wells Fargo provided $66 million to educational organizations, including $17 million in team member donations, which Wells Fargo matches dollar for dollar, up to $5,000 per team member.