College students a target for identity theft - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

College students a target for identity theft

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

Identity theft can obviously be scary for anyone, but there’s one group of people that may be a bigger target than they think.

College kids should beware.

The Better Business Bureau released a study saying college students are more at risk to be a victim of identity theft.

"I was very shocked, because it was one of the things that didn't cross my mind," said Cassidy Devin, a college student at Three Rivers in Sikeston.

She’s just one of thousands of college students who according to the Better Business Bureau are at risk for identity theft.

"Using your social security number as passwords, having to use your drivers license as photo I.D.," said Devin.

"If you think about it with all the information you have to put online and registering for classes and grants and loans, it's really not, in the access that people have using the computers, to get that information is a lot easier,” said Monica Plain, a student at Three Rivers in Sikeston.

While some college students said they’re surprised to hear they’re a target, Plain knows firsthand what it’s like to be a victim.

"I actually looked up and found on my records that someone had actually used my identity to take out some, or apply for a loan," said Plain.

The bureau said victims of identity theft between the ages of 18 and 24, took the longest to detect the crime.

They also lost the most, with an average cost of more than $1,000.

"I froze my bank accounts, I had to get a new one, I got a new drivers license, I flagged my credit report," said Jonathon Erickson, a student at Southeast Missouri State.

Someone stole Erickson’s wallet, with everything in it.

"I knew what all I had in my wallet, and I knew how big of a risk it takes for just one half a second just to apply for everything," said Erickson.

Plain said she makes sure to change her passwords often, and Devin makes sure to always log off community computers.

But not everyone knows what to do, now identity theft safety might need to be a lesson for the college classroom.

So how can you protect yourself?

Always check your bank statement for suspicious activity.

The bureau suggests having sensitive mail sent to a permanent address, not a school mailbox; always keep important documents under lock and key, like social security cards, passports, or bank statements; and make sure your computer has up to date anti-virus software.

Copyright 2013 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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