Web-Scam-FeaturedJEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander issued an Investor Alert for students in the state.

According to a release from Kander’s office, Missouri students can take six simple steps to protect their identities while engaging in online activity.

“My office’s six simple tips can help protect yourself from fraud, and prevent months, and even years, of stress,” Kander stated in the release. “Protecting yourself from fraud is the first step in a healthy financial future.”

1. Protect your passwords

Creating passwords for computers, tablets and mobile devices that are separate from those used in bank accounts, emails or social networking is an important tip. Kander’s office urges students to never save a password on a financial institution’s or credit card company’s website. Students are encouraged to refrain from using their name or any easily identified words for access to the accounts.

2. Don’t email sensitive information

Avoid sending credit or debit information, or a Social Security number, to anyone through email. Individuals should, instead, use the company’s website to confirm a secure means of communication is established for transactions.

3. Reveal only necessary information

All students recognize the “marked” when creating an online profile of any sort. Kander’s office reminds individuals that minimal information is shared online when only the marked fields are filled out. Kander reminds all individuals to read the privacy policy for any user account that is created.

4. Check the website security

A URL beginning with “https://” rather than just “http://” generally indicate a legitimate financial institution or retail establishment. Any secure website will have the indication of safety features for users.

5. Monitor credit reports annually

Be sure to utilize functions from banks alerting of any fraudulent activity that might have occurred. Checking credit scores on a regular basis allows a user to keep a better grasp on any suspicious activity. Federal law guarantees three free credit scores every year.

6. Report suspicious transactions immediately

Any concerns of fraudulent activity should be immediately reported to the bank, financial institution or credit card company, and the Secretary of State’s Investor Protection Hotline 1 – 800 – 721 – 7996.

“It’s a sad reality that there are scam artists who target college students through online scams,” Kander said. “With thousands of Missouri students returning to campus, many of them freshman, scammers will often try and take advantage of a young person’s new-found independence through online identity theft schemes.”