College-Age Adults at Higher Risk of Falling Victim to Identity Theft

August 21, 2012
College-age adults at higher risk of falling victim to identity theft

BBB offers steps college students should take to protect their identity

Akron, OH — Better Business Bureau warns that college-age adults are particularly vulnerable to identity theft and related fraudulent crimes. According to the Consumer Sentinel Network database, 56,689 consumers between the ages of 20 and 29 fell victim to identity theft in 2011. That number accounts for 23 percent of the total number of identity theft complaints reported last year; the largest out of any 10-year age range.

College-age adults have many responsibilities to manage when it comes to school, work and their social lives, and tend to not be as careful with their personal information. Often times, college age students share housing with others and do not have the appropriate security measures in place, such as identity theft protection services.

Young adults are especially susceptible to friendly fraud — fraud perpetrated by people known to the victim, such as a relative or roommate. This type of identity theft typically occurs when a roommate steals credit card information or credit card statements and offers are negligently thrown away.

BBB offers these simple steps college students can take to protect their identity:

· Secure your mail. Campus mailboxes are often easily accessed in a dorm or apartment. Have sensitive mail sent to a permanent address such as your parents’ home or invest in a secure post office box.

· Important documents should be securely stored and disposed of. This includes your social security card, passport and bank and credit card statements. Shred all paper documents that contain sensitive financial information and any credit card offers that come in the mail.

· Never loan your credit or debit card to anyone. If you feel the need to pay for a friend’s meal or a tank of gas, go with them instead. Avoid co-signing for a loan or other financing.

· Check your credit and debit card statements frequently. Look for any suspicious activity or purchases. The sooner you identify potential fraud, the sooner any fraudulent charges can be refunded.

· Check your credit report at least once a year. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion each offer a free credit report once a year. Visit to request a report and look for any suspicious activity or inaccuracies.

· Consider identity theft protection services. If you are unable to routinely monitor your accounts and information, consider enrolling in identity theft protection services. These services help monitor your credit and public records for suspicious activity and will alert you if and when something is found. Some of these services also offer additional recovery and resolution help should you fall victim to identity theft.

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Contact BBB serving Ashland, Medina, Portage, Richland, Summit & Wayne Counties at (330) 253-4590.