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Identity thieves target college students

Sep 08, 2013 Dave King

Identity thieves target college students

Recently, identity theft has been increasingly striking younger demographics. In fact, a new report revealed that the individuals most at risk of having their personal information stolen are college students.

According to the Better Business Bureau, the high rates of smartphone and social media usage have put college students at the top of identity thieves' target lists, the Associated Press reported. Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau in northern Illinois, termed this "friendly fraud," and explained that it makes up more 20 percent of identity theft crimes that occur on college campuses.

While the term "friendly fraud" may seem to diminish the severity or danger of the problem, it in fact refers to those most likely to commit this type of theft: friends, roommates and classmates who are able to gain access to these technologies and accounts without permission.

There are several ways college students can protect themselves against breaches of their personal information and financial data, the organization detailed in a separate article. For example, as young people rely more on their computers to conduct and manage all tasks and details of their lives having up-to-date and comprehensive anti-virus and spyware software installed is a necessity.

"Always install any updates and patches to your computer's operating system or browser software which help keep your computer safe from any new advances by identity thieves online," the Better Business Bureau explained.

Additionally, individuals will want to keep a close eye on credit and debit statements for any suspicious charges or activity, the organization wrote. The sooner students can stop thieves in their tracks, the better they can safeguard their credit scores and their financial futures. With this in mind, credit bureaus may want to be especially vigilant during the school year.