BOSTON (CBS) – This might sound surprising, but college students are considered an easy target for identity thieves. Many students on campus dismiss the notion, saying they have other things to be worried about.
A particular concern is so called “Friendly Fraud”. This occurs when information is stolen by someone who is known to the victim. This type of violation is on the rise.
Students are vulnerable because they are often careless with junk mail which can contain personal information. They might also leave these types of documents hanging around a dorm room.
WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports
Safety precautions, like avoiding malware, are often ignored. For example, only 30% of those 18-24 said they have installed anti-virus software.
Adam Levin, founder of Identity Theft 911, said young people “will have the coolest app on the planet, but they will not have the most secure machine. They will also use passwords that are familiar, silly passwords — their birth date, the date they met their significant other.”
A strong online password will include a mix of numbers, letters, and punctuation marks.
Laptops aren’t the only computer students need to protect with software and strong passwords.
“You can protect you protect your cell phone like you do your computer. There are programs for it, but you have to think of your cell phone as a computer,” added Levin.
Students are often reminded they shouldn’t share too much information online. But even some of the popular Facebook quizzes can be release too much information.
An identity thief can use small pieces of personal information, such as a pet’s name, to crack the security code on password protected information. Levin said students don’t realize the legacy this type of crime can have. “The problem with identity theft is way beyond money. It can cost them their reputation. It can cost them their opportunity to get a job because their credit has been devastated. They could be plagued for years.”
Another precaution parents can take is to routinely check their child’s credit report to make sure there is no unusual activity.