Avoiding debt and theft

Many students can avoid credit card or ID theft and prevent becoming in debt by taking simple precautions, being aware of what information they release and monitoring how much they spend with credit cards.

“According to various news sources, almost 80 percent of college students own a credit card and use them on a weekly or monthly basis,” said Lee Taylor, a spokesperson for Young & Free Alabama.

Young & Free is powered by Listerhill Credit Union and helps students with managing their money.

“It’s scary how easy it is to be pre-approved for a credit card,” Taylor said. “Fifty percent of college students receive pre-approved credit card offers in the mail daily. As a result, it’s projected that by the end of the year almost all of these students will reach within 50 percent of their spending limit on these cards.”

Taylor said one way to help prevent having your credit card and ID information stolen is to limit the amount of purchases you make online. He also said to limit how many cards you use to make online purchases.

“(About) 48 percent of college students have their grades posted by social security number,” Taylor said. “Any use of your SSN should be carefully thought through, considering this number, including just the ‘last four digits’ can grant many people access to various accounts you have in school and online.”

Taylor said about 29 percent of identity theft complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission came from young adults in 2006. Also, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, households headed by persons between the ages of 18-24 are more likely to have experiences with identity theft.

“I’m not sure what percentage of college students run into (credit or ID theft, but) it’s clear that people our age, through online purchasing with credit and debit cards and multiple accounts without information inside of it, are definitely susceptible to ID theft,” Taylor said.

Some ways to stay out of debt Taylor suggested are to live within your means. He said that being in debt is sometimes unavoidable, but sometimes it is unnecessary. He said to buy things with the money that you have for things you need.

“Take on your own financial responsibility now to avoid stress later,” Taylor said.

Taylor also suggests that if you are having money problems, then try finding part-time work during the holidays.