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Electronics Vulnerable to Theft on School Campuses

CHICAGO, IL – August 16, 2011– As students across the state are on their way back to school, many of them will carry cell phones, iPads, iPods, laptops and other electronic devices everywhere from their dorms to their cars and their classrooms. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reminds students and their parents to talk about ways to keep electronics and personal information out of the wrong hands.

College campuses, cafeterias, local hang outs and even classrooms can be an easy target for those looking to steal expensive electronic devices. Not only can thieves steal your personal property, they could gain access to sensitive information which can lead to identity theft.

“People often get a false sense of security when they are surrounded by peers or in a school setting,” said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Chicago and northern Illinois. “These electronics should be treated like cash. The costs of losing property like this can be extremely significant, especially if personal information is accessed.”

The BBB offers the following advice to students and parents on how to keep personal property and sensitive information safe at school:

  • Use password protections. Even if a thief steals your electronic device, having password protections could limit their access to your personal information. Avoid sharing passwords with friends or carrying them around on paper.
  • Keep it off the floor. No matter where you are in public — a large study hall in school, a conference, a coffee shop, or a registration desk — avoid putting your electronics on the floor. If you must put it down, place it between your feet or at least up against your leg, so that you’re aware of it.
  • Get it out of the car. Don’t leave your electronics in the car — not on the seat, not in the trunk. Parked cars are a favorite target of thieves; don’t help them by leaving your property unattended.
  • Don’t leave it “for just a minute.” Your classmates seem trustworthy, so you’re comfortable leaving your electronics on the table while you go outside for a break. The people at the coffee shop seem nice, so you ask them to keep an eye out while you use the restroom. Don’t leave your laptop, iPad or other tablets unguarded — even for a minute.
  • Use bells and whistles. Depending on your security needs, an alarm can be a useful tool. Some laptop alarms sound when there’s unexpected motion, or when the computer moves outside a specified range around you. Or consider a kind of “lo-jack” for your laptop: a program that reports the location of your stolen laptop once it’s connected to the Internet.
  • Leave it at home. In some cases, school districts may have strict policies about students bringing electronic devices to campus. Be sure to find out what is allowed while on campus and in the classroom. Also, determine if you really need your electronics during school hours or if they can wait until you get home.

For more consumer safety tips, and advice on how to avoid identity theft visit www.bbb.org

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As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reviews on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.

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