When your child moves out of the house to attend college, not only will you be seeing them less, but you won’t be able to protect them as much as you could in the past. With their newfound sense of freedom, your child may consider applying for a credit card. If your son or daughter does this without your knowing, you won’t have the chance to explain to them the consequences that come with these plastic cards.
What can you do to prevent this? As a parent, you should simply have a conversation with your child about the risks of credit card debt and even identity theft.
Why Your College Student is at Risk
Did you know that people in the age range of 18 to 29 make up 31 percent of identity thefts? This is because younger people lack the life lessons that allow them to know when something is too good to be true.
Your child may be at risk for harmful credit card consequences and identity theft because they are uneducated on the issues. Young adults think that credit cards allow limitless money that they can payoff whenever they’re ready.
How Credit Card Companies May Trick Your Child
Because your son or daughter has such little knowledge about credit cards, banks will only highlight the positive aspects a card offers: the ability to build credit, buying things he or she may not have the money for, etc. While building credit is a great opportunity for young adults, that will only be achieved if they can pay off their monthly bill. Many college students find themselves spending too much on their credit card, and then not having enough money to actually pay their bill. The idea of building credit can backfire on your child to where they will actually be living with bad credit.
How Identity Thieves May Target Your Son or Daughter
As of 2009, credit card companies are no longer allowed to use giveaways on college campuses to persuade students into signing up for a credit card. Though credit card companies aren’t typically on campuses anymore, something scarier has taken their place – identity thieves. There are three main reasons these thieves go through all of the trouble to target kids like your son or daughter
1. College Students are Easily Persuaded
Young adults have a sweet ignorance to them that makes them prime targets for identity theft. Scammers have been known to create booths near college campuses on weekend nights – when some students are easily persuaded to do something out of the norm – and ask students to sign up for a credit card in exchange for a hat or other souvenir type item.
2. Thieves Can Use Your Child’s Information for More Than Signing Up for a Credit Card
I’m sure your child has received multiple credit card offers in the mail, which you simply throw away. Identity thieves who have access to college students’ addresses may go through their trash to find those offers that are thrown out, as many credit card companies send pre-activated cards.
3. Students Don’t Pay Close Attention to Their Statements
Since they don’t have much experience with personal finances, a college student is likely to just give his or her statement a quick glance – if that. Scammers know this, and are known to take small amounts of money out at a time, unrecognizable to someone who doesn’t thoroughly check his or her bill.
There are so many things a parent discusses with their child before he or she leaves for college – importance of education, sticking with the right crowd, etc. – but the risks of credit card debt and identity theft should also rank high in those conversations.
Emily Michaelson is a mother of three teenage sons. Unfortunately, she is writing today from first-hand experience. After her oldest son was a victim of credit card scams, she sought help on his behalf. Now, she is determined to raise awareness about internet fraud, online scams, and identity theft.