By Lee McClelland
The holiday shopping season is upon us, which can mean only one thing: you are trying to figure out where to amass the cash to buy your loved ones gifts.
While selling plasma offers a menial cash supply, it probably won’t provide enough overhead for you to purchase those Applebee’s gift cards that everyone in your family finds irresistible. Where then will you find this money, you poor, poor college student?
I found myself asking these questions a few weeks ago, as I toiled away in the library. A lot of people heard me because I was talking aloud. A kind gentleman in a blue knit sweater offered me his opinion: get a credit card. Because I generally take advice from strangers in woolen garments, I did just that. After applying, VISA gave me a credit line of $500 and I was beating down the virtual door of online retailers.
If you’re like me, then your bank account contains somewhere around fifty dollars and you’re in-debt to the federal government for sizeable student loans. When it comes to money, things are tight. That is why it is important to guard your personal information so you don’t end up like so many other Americans during this busy holiday season who have their identities stolen while shopping online.
Identity theft is a growing concern in the online marketplace, where so many of our transactions occur through wholesale dotcom enterprises.
Because so much of our shopping is done online, the risk of having your credit card information stolen is increased considerably. As a student, you might be a little loose and fast with your purchases. There is an off chance that you might not take the time to ask yourself if you want to give your credit or debit card information to www.SweatyMikesGreatDeals.com. As a consumer, you are making a deal with an online merchant by offering your credit card information, but while your data is floating about on the Internet, it is up for the taking.
Identity theft happens more than you think. The phishing attempts that students are warned against by the university are an example. By receiving something as simple as a password, someone can gain access to important information, which can have undesirable effects. I’m still getting emails from strangers asking to wire $25 million wired to my account after my email was hacked more than five months ago. This was an inconvenience, but at least no one had stolen my credit card information. Even though I have never had my identity stolen, let’s pretend I did just for fun.
After a hypothetical purchase at a questionable website that we’ll call “SweatyMikesGreatDeals.com” for the time being, someone gets ahold of my VISA card information. They run up my bill, but luckily for me, VISA doesn’t hold me accountable. With identity theft becoming a common occurrence, credit card companies have policies in place to deal with this kind of thing. Though I’m off the hook for a stranger’s expenses, my mother still doesn’t have her Applebee’s gift card wrapped and under the tree. If this were to actually happen—unlike the hypothetical scenario above—there are certain precautions that I should take.
If you are unfortunate and find yourself the victim of identity theft, it is best to contact your credit card company and file a report—it doesn’t hurt to get the police involved either. Check your credit ratings to make sure that no damage has been done to your credit score.
Be careful when using credit cards. I find them to be a plastic sliver in my derriere, but I’m not really into the micro-loan scene. Enjoy shopping and be careful when purchasing products online. Don’t let “Sweaty Mike” clean you out.
Editor’s Note: This article was written by someone claiming to be Lee McClelland. It was brought to my attention that it was actually written by a 54 year old man who suffers from Hyperhidrosis named Michael, who was trying to create some buzz for his website—he is a Florida native. This article is a work of fiction.