TDCI Shares 'Back to School' Consumer TipsTips Focus on Safety, Finances, and Insurance Ahead of New School Year
NASHVILLE – With a new school year getting underway this week for many Tennessee parents and students, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) is reminding consumers that education doesn’t stop in the classroom. TDCI’s divisions are offering consumers tips and reminders to help ensure your back-to-school season is safe and scam-free after school is in session.
“Going back to school can be a hectic and exciting time for parents, students, and teachers,” said TDCI Interim Commissioner Carter Lawrence. “We’re encouraging consumers to pause for a moment and consider these tips which can provide greater peace of mind, protect consumers’ finances and help all of Tennessee.”
TDCI’s divisions are sharing the following tips and information ahead of the back-to-school season:
Consumer Affairs: Identity Theft
- Check your credit report. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act mandates that each of the major credit bureaus supply consumers with a free copy of their credit report each year. Get your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Don’t reuse passwords. As tempting as it may be to reuse passwords, it’s a really good practice to use a different password for every account you access online. By keeping unique passwords for every account, thieves will not be able to access your checking, brokerage and email accounts if they discover one of your passwords.
- Don’t put private information on public computers. If you’re away from home, make sure you don’t save private information on a computer used by the public.
- Unfortunately, sometimes identity theft occurs. If you discover that you’ve been the victim of identity theft, you should immediately notify credit bureaus and creditors. Keep a log of all conversations you have about your identity theft. Confirm conversations in writing, send correspondence by certified mail and keep copies of all letters and documents.
- A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, is a free tool that allows consumers to restrict access to their credit reports, making it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts. You can enact a credit freeze by contacting the three nationwide credit bureaus.
- If you are the victim of identity theft, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately.
Fire Prevention: Updated School Safety Measures
- The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds parents, educators and students about our guidance for classroom safety. As this video illustrates, Tennessee students and educators now have greater flexibility when planning for school security emergencies. Tennessee recently adopted the National Fire Protection Association’s 2018 Life Safety Code rules for classroom safety measures. These enhancements give educators and administrators additional resources to help protect students in the event of an emergency.
Insurance: Car & Renters Insurance for College Students
- Driving is a big responsibility. If you have a student who has just started to drive (or if you’re a seasoned driver), it’ s important to refresh yourself about the rules of the road with this video outlining important tips that can keep you and your passengers safe. (Remember: The Tennessee Hands Free law makes it illegal for a driver to hold a cellphone or mobile device.)
- When adding a teen driver to your policy, consider revising coverage and deductibles. Review your current deductibles to determine whether you can afford to absorb a larger portion of your loss in the event of an accident. Raising the deductible and allowing the teen to drive your oldest vehicle can help lower costs.
- Regularly review your auto insurance policy to make sure the basis for your premium is as accurate as possible. A teen graduating high school or reaching age 18 can affect your premium.
- Teens moving into an apartment or rental home for college should consider and understand renters insurance coverage. Renters’ policies protect personal possessions in the event of an loss. These policies are usually inexpensive and can even cover living expenses if your rental is deemed uninhabitable due to damage.
Motor Vehicle Commission: Buying a Car
- Before going to a dealership, decide what you can afford. Don’t forget to factor in insurance, parking, gas, and maintenance costs.
- Check into financing before choosing a car. Ask about financing terms, the number of months, down payments options, interest rates, and financing charges.
- Ensure your car dealer is properly licensed by checking verify.tn.gov.
- Review the purchase contract carefully. Make sure all agreed upon repairs and warranties are written on the purchase contract before you sign. Never sign a blank, incomplete, or unclear contract or buyers guide.
Securities: Financial Priorities for the New School Year
- Regardless of your age or life situation, it is wise to create a financial plan. Having a financial plan helps you save money for the future.
- Before purchasing an investment, do your homework. Research all aspects of the company, and ensure your broker is properly licensed by checking finra.org.
- Monitor your bank accounts, investments, and financial plan closely. As life changes, so do your financial needs and plans. Doing a quarterly or bi-annual check of your financial portfolio is a great way to ensure your profile is up-to-date.