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Avoid fraud during life transitions

Change is a part of life.

And during some of life’s bigger transitions—graduations, moves, new jobs—it’s easy to let down our guard on fraud prevention.

“High school grads are entering a very exciting time in their life, and likely this will be the first time they are living away from home—and the watchful eyes of parents,” says Kelly Liddle, fraud specialist at Dupaco Community Credit Union’s Pennsylvania branch in Dubuque, Iowa. “College graduates are likely preparing for their first ‘real’ job. Moving out, possibly relocating across the country and far from home, is stressful at any stage of life.”

Tips to avoid fraud during life changesDuring these life events, some fraud prevention tips are worth an extra reminder:

Lock up your valuables.

Living in a dorm or apartment puts you in close proximity to others. Consider using a small lock box for your valuables. And leave the Social Security card at home with your parents, Liddle advises.

Password-protect everything.

That includes your phone and computer. Keep your passwords private, and change them often, Liddle says.

Avoid sharing devices.

When you share your laptop or cell phone, you open yourself up to viruses, malware and keylogger software. “You also give that person free access to all your files, personal information, emails and possibly online banking,” Liddle says.

Practice card safety.

Never let anyone borrow your debit card, and never divulge your PIN. Don’t store your PIN on your card or in your purse or wallet. When using your debit card, watch for skimming devices on ATMs and gas station pumps, and be aware of your surroundings.

Protect your accounts.

If you’re moving away to college or your first apartment, consider keeping a close and trusted family member on your financial accounts. It can come in handy, Liddle says, if you need funds transferred quickly or need someone to act on your behalf.

Watch out for scams.

It seems there’s a scam for every occasion. If you’re applying for scholarships, know that you should never have to pay. If you’re searching for an apartment, never send or wire a security deposit without first seeing the place. “This is a common scam,” Liddle says.

Don’t over-share.

When it comes to sharing on social media, less is more. “Avoid advertising when you are going to be gone for long periods of time,” Liddle says. “By putting all your info out there for the rest of the world, you make it easy for fraudsters to try to take on your identity.”

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