HELENA — With many students getting ready to head back to school, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is cautioning families to be wary of potential scams.
BBB Montana Marketplace Director Hannah Stiff says protecting a child’s identity should always be a priority.
Young people don’t usually have a credit history and can be prime targets for identity thieves.
“A key that your child might have already been a victim of identity theft is having offers in the mail that are in their name,” said Stiff.
Stiff says parents can take simple steps can help protect their child’s identity.
Students shouldn’t carry around their social security number or their social security card with them.
If a school or organization is asking for their social, parents should ask questions about why the need the number and how long it will be stored with them.
The BBB also recommends that parents periodically check the credit score of their child just to make sure their identity hasn’t been compromised.
“We’re telling people to really be careful and do your research on those big ticket items,” said Stiff.
People should make sure items such as a minifridge or computer are always purchased through reputable dealers or organizations.
“You also want to do your warranty information research,” explained Stiff. “Is there a warranty for this product? How long does it last? Is there a return policy? Kids can be fickle, save your receipts just to be safe.”
Stiff says if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Scammers can create convincing looking websites in order to get someone’s money.
“Always use a safer form of payment like your credit card because it’s not always easy to get, or possible to get debit card funds back and never wire money,” said Stiff. “Those weird forms of payment, those are your red flags that you are probably somewhere you shouldn’t be.”
People can look up the reputation and more information about legitimate businesses on the BBB website.
“Preparation always helps,” noted Stiff. “Especially if you’re spending a lot of money, you want to make sure that money is going to the product you want.”