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College students most susceptible to identity theft, report says

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Posted: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 1:34 am

Jordan McPherson thinks twice before he uses his credit card.

The 18-year-old UF journalism freshman said after his grandmother’s identity was stolen, he became much more cautious about how he handles important personal information.

And he has good reason.

The Better Business Bureau recently reported that college students make up the highest percentage of identity theft victims.

The Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book found 57,491 adults between the ages of 20 and 29 reported being identity theft victims in 2012.

The bureau stated that those numbers accounted for about 21 percent of the total number of reported thefts, the highest of any 10-year age range. The data book also found Florida has the highest rate of reported identity thefts.

Identity theft protection tips from UF Student Financial Affairs

Alicia Keaton, a senior associate director at UF Student Financial Affairs, said she has heard of some UF students having their identity stolen, but she wouldn’t consider it a rampant problem.

Because college students tend to be more lax with their information, she said, it makes them more susceptible to identity theft.

Keaton said stealing mail and changing address forms are common types of identity theft, as well as phishing — emailing consumers asking for username or password information. Thieves often identify themselves as a bank, a credit card company or even as UF to get information. She said students should never respond to those emails.

“Nobody is ever going to ask you to confirm your username or password,” she said.

Failure to receive bills, receiving credit cards that weren’t applied for, having credit denied or receiving calls from debt collectors are all signs that a person might have had his or her identity stolen.

Keaton said the Student Financial Management Center offers financial literacy courses about identity theft, and the department will go to classes or organizations to educate UF students about the process.

“There are so many ways for your identity to be stolen,” she said.

A version of this story ran on page 1 on 10/23/2013 under the headline "College students most susceptible to identity theft, report says"

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