CONSUMER WATCH: College Students & Identity Theft

CONSUMER WATCH: College Students & Identity Theft

Why digitally-savvy college students are also more susceptible to identity theft, and tips to avoid it.
Students pass around a lot of personal information in the first days of the school year, everywhere from the registrar's office to the bank.

For identity thieves, those young people are a popular target.

"They haven't established a credit history yet, so they kind have a clean slate in the credit world.  And they're not likely to check their credit history or have their credit history checked until they graduate from college." 

It's not just keeping an eye on a wallet anymore. A smartphone, tablet, or laptop can give a thief access to valuable information.

Mary Power of the Better Business Bureau advises keeping certain pieces of data especially secure.

"College students are very open and very trusting and they want to trust everybody.  And we want them to, to a certain point but we want them to be careful particularly with those three items; the bank account number, the credit card number, and the social security card number."

In addition to their own precautions, Michael Kaiser of the National Cyber Security Alliance advises getting a sense of the university's privacy policies and whether they could leave an opening for a breach.

"Any new college students, I say, Hey, ask what are you doing with my information?  How do you store information?  Are you going to take that file and lock it in a cabinet when I leave here?  I mean those are the basic things that keep information safe."

Credit card offers are slightly less prevalant on campuses due to changes in federal law. But if filling out applications, students should be mindful to keep the information secure.
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