If you are the parent of a college-age student (or are enrolled in school yourself), the back-to-school season is likely filled with calls and emails to financial aid institutions, school registrars and more—and with all that communication naturally comes the exchange of sensitive information. To keep your identity safe and secure while navigating the back-to-school season, we’ve put together a simple refresher on online safety and savviness to follow now and throughout the year.
Check and double check the address bar
Whenever you have to enter your information into a website (whether it be a school site or government aid provider), be sure to check and double check that the address bar shows the correct address for the site you want to be on. By getting into this practice, checking for (and, in some cases, identifying) an imposter site will be second nature to you.
Keep track of important login information
With post-secondary enrollment comes lots of usernames and passwords to remember, as well as important documents you won’t want to lose. Put all this information into a designated folder, and store it wherever you keep your other sensitive documents.
Beware of unfamiliar emails
Don’t be fooled by any phony emails claiming to be your loan provider or institution. Just as you diligently check the website’s address bar, be sure to check the sender address and, when in doubt, call the institution before following any links found in the email.
Double up on security
A good rule of thumb is to take advantage of two-step verification whenever and wherever it is offered. This means that you’ll have to go through two separate security processes whenever you log onto your school website (by entering a password and sending a link to your phone, for example). It may seem like a time consumer now, but you’ll appreciate the added peace of mind it brings to your online routine.
Watch out for back-to-school scams
As always, be sure to watch out for scams. You may hear from websites claiming to offer help in filling out government financial aid forms, for example, but you should learn to avoid financial aid sites that don’t carry the official “FAFSA.gov” URL.
By following these simple tips, you and your student should be able to navigate the school season ahead with ease.