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College Students at Risk for Identity Theft

College students get lots of reminders on how to keep their personal belongings safe, but a different kind of theft that could be far more costly. How you can keep personal data safe on campus.
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," notes Michael Kaiser, executive director of National Cyber Security Alliance.  "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, Kaiser 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 prevalent on campuses due to changes in federal law. But if filling out applications, students should be mindful to keep the information secure.

(Karin Caifa for CNN's Consumer Watch)


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