Christopher Macino, VP, Private Banking, Waterford Bank, N.A.
It’s that time of year again. Students are heading back to campus and for some this is their first time away from home. No matter how prepared they may think they are, campus life is sure to throw some educational and financial surprises their way.
Finance and Fraud Pitfalls
Obviously the bulk of college costs come from tuition, but factoring in additional necessities such as groceries, textbooks, transportation costs, etc. you can expect your costs to be much more. If you have never been in charge of handling your day to day living expenses (thanks mom and dad!), a little preparation in the form of a budget or financial management tools on your phone can go a long way in helping to make sure you only have to worry about studying for your next exam – not how you’re going to afford dinner this week.
A little preparation in the form of a budget can go a long way in managing your finances successfully on campus.
Additionally, being in a new atmosphere and in many cases shared spaces with dozens, if not hundreds of other students will result in the need to take precautions to protect your identity. Living in a dorm where other students or strangers might easily access your room and belongings, certainly ups the need for vigilance. On top of that, research conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research found that it takes 18 to 24 year-olds nearly twice as long to detect fraud compared to other age groups, making them fraud victims for longer periods of time.
Tips for Heading Back
Before you or your students head back to campus consider these financial and security tips:
- Check with your bank to inquire about what kinds of financial management tools they offer and sign up for them. Many banks offer online and mobile banking which allow you to review your transactions, deposit checks, and even turn a lost or missing debit card off from your mobile device. You can see what mobile tools Waterford Bank, N.A. has to offer here.
- Consider applying for a credit card with a small limit. Not only can it act as a backup card in case something goes wrong with your debit card, but, if approved, it will also help you to start building credit – just make sure you manage it wisely.
- Don’t be tempted to apply for a credit card or some other store card to get a free college gift/sweatshirt/t-shirt while on campus. You should always check the rates, disclosures, fees, etc., including the legitimacy of the financial entity you’re giving your personal information to.
- Spending too much at the campus bookstore? Create a budget. You can find various samples on the internet or download budgeting apps that can help as well. These will help you track your spending so you can review at the end of the month where your money was spent and then make adjustments to stay within your budget.
- Keep your wallet in a secure, hidden area in your dorm or apartment while you are away from your room or sleeping. You may trust your roommate(s), but how well do you know their friends who visit?
- Never leave your phone or laptop unattended and make sure both devices require a strong password or PIN to access them. You can also buy insurance on your laptop to soften the financial blow in the event it is stolen or you spill your favorite Starbucks brew on it.
Bonus Tips for COVID Times
- With COVID-19 on everyone’s mind, take steps to protect your health and financial well-being. Minimize germ exposure and avoid passing cash back and forth. Instead, opt to make payments with your debit/credit card or a digital payment service like Apple Pay™ to reduce surface contact you make with others or machines. As an added bonus, digital payments offer additional layers of security to your payments process. Learn more about digital payment options here.
- Considering recent events, you may also be turning to online purchases more often. To help protect your information, confirm the site you are purchasing from utilizes safety metrics, such as a verified security certificate. To check a site’s security, look to the left of the web address for a padlock icon or “https” at the start of the address.
- Now more than ever, countless transactions are being conducted at the speed of a button click. It is a good idea to check on your accounts regularly or set up instant alert notifications, to help catch fraudulent transactions as they occur and not let them become buried and ultimately missed in your account activity. Waterford currently offers notification tools like Notifi and Card Valet to help you get account and debit card transaction notifications in real-time.
Check on your accounts regularly or set up instant alert notifications, to help catch fraudulent transactions as they occur and help hinder fraudsters from making off with your money.
Hopefully, these tips can help you or your student build a strong foundation of financial responsibility. By developing good money and fraud mitigation skills, you’re contributing to a happier campus experience now and a healthier financial future when you graduate.
About the Author
Christopher Macino is a Vice President of Private Banking at Waterford Bank, N.A. in Toledo, Ohio. Apart from being a strong advocate for financial education in the classroom, he has learned much seeing his own three children through college. If you’d like to connect with Chris on this topic or another banking matter, please call 419-720-3900.