College students at high risk for identity theft

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– College campuses are full of students ready to soak up new information. But that high concentration of young people with good credit scores also makes college campuses targets for thieves trying to steal information.

“As a matter of fact, you’re more likely to get your identity stolen than your car stolen and according got the F.T.C., college students tend to be the most vulnerable,” said Anthony DaBreo, the Vice President and Manager of  the Indianapolis Branch of Erie Insurance. He said every three seconds someone’s identity is stolen.

College students are vulnerable because they get flooded with credit card offers in the mail or online, and sometimes have a hard time distinguishing fake ones from reputable ones.

Many students shop online or use their phones and laptops in public places which makes them susceptible to “shoulder surfers,” people who snap a picture of someone’s informatoin while it’s up on a computer screen.

“With a little bit of information, they can have their accounts wiped out, new accounts set up in their names, credit cards can be set up in their names, they can even actually have fraudulent tax filings done with that information,” said DaBreo.

At The University of Indianapolis, incoming freshman are warned about the dangers of illegal downloads and told about safe online practices. Information Systems courses also offer lessons about privacy issues and identity theft risks. Some students said they take precautions.

“Most of the time when I buy something online I will shred the receipts and I don’t carry any of my personal information with me, like my social security card or anything like that,” said UIndy student Heather Peters.

DeBreo said it’s also smart to shred credit card offers mailed to you so they don’t end up in the wrong hands.  Putting a password lock on electronic devices and getting a lock box to store personal documents can add another layer of protection. He said be wary of posting information on social media like pets names or the name of the street you grew up on because those are often used as passwords or security question answers.

For parents, purchasing identity theft insurance might be a good move, said DaBreo, because many college students are still linked to their parents banking, checking or credit card accounts. Most insurance companies offer some form of identity theft protection policy.

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