published Friday, September 16th, 2011

Winsett: Enjoy life on campus with electronics secure

By Jim Winsett

Q: My son attending college had his laptop stolen. How can college students secure all the electronic devices they possess?

A: As students across the nation make their way back to school, many will carry cellphones, iPads, iPods, laptops and other electronic devices everywhere from their room, to the car and classroom. The Better Business Bureau reminds students and their parents to talk about ways to protect and keep electronics out of the wrong hands.

College campuses, cafeterias, local hang-outs and even classrooms can be an easy target for those looking to snatch expensive electronic devices. Not only can thieves steal your personal property, they could gain access to sensitive information such as emails, text messages, calendars, photos and even social media network logins.

Students need to be alert and vigilant when it comes to securing their electronics. Electronics are a huge investment, and they should not be treated any differently than

carrying around of cash.

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

• 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 are aware of it.

• Leave it at home. In some cases, school districts and universities 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.

• Get it out of the car. Do not leave your electronics in the car, not on the seat, nor in the trunk. Parked cars are a favorite target of thieves; do not help them by leaving your property unattended.

• Don’t leave it “for just a minute.” Your classmates seem trustworthy, so you are 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. Do not leave your laptop, iPad or other electronic devices 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 is connected to the Internet.

Get answers to your questions each Friday from Jim Winsett, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Inc., which serves Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia. Submit questions to his attention by writing to Business Editor Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free Press, P.O. Box 1447, Chattanooga, TN, 37401-1447, or by e-mailing him at dflessner@

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