Sometimes it’s just way too hard to choose only one topic for my weekly writing adventure. This week there are two things that both seem to need urgent attention, so the Moneywise Tip is going to be a twofer.
First up, September 4 is the last day for students to purchase the Penn State Student Health Insurance Policy (SHIP) for fall semester. And while you are young and healthy it’s easy to think you can get away with not having insurance. But you really shouldn’t. One broken bone. One bad case of the flu. One inflamed appendix. Any one of these can happen at any time, and without health insurance it can easily set you on the path to a lifetime of medical debt. You can read more about that here. But know that the choice to skip insurance is a game of Russian roulette you really shouldn’t play.
And for the second topic of the day, a student came to me last week to discuss something that scared both of us. She came in to say, “I came to give you the information you called me about this morning.” She went on to tell me that she had received a phone call from me asking for her birthdate and Social Security number for a student job she was applying for. One big problem: I hadn’t called her. The caller had used my name, but I didn’t place the call. It was a scammer. The reality is, anyone with access to the internet would be able to figure out that she is a student at Penn State Law, and I am the Financial Aid Director at Penn State Law. I’m actually kind of stunned that someone would do this level of research to try to run a phone phishing scam. But it happened. So how do you protect yourself against this kind of thing? My rule of thumb is that I never give out personal information on a phone call that I did not initiate. No date of birth. No Social Security numbers. No credit card numbers. If I didn’t place the call, no one is getting that kind of info out of me over the phone. Period. And thankfully, this student was smart and didn’t share that info on the phone, even though she thought it was me on the other end of the phone. WHEW! (Just so you know—I would never ask for that kind of info on the phone. I would always ask for you to bring physical documentation of these things.) Scammers are still everywhere, so make sure to protect yourself!