Students at high risk for identity theft


College students may just be discovering themselves, but thieves are out there, waiting to steal their identities, fledgling or not.

Identity theft is not just stealing and using someone's credit cards, but also gathering information such as names, Social Security numbers, passwords, and address information. An identity thief may reroute your accounts to his own address, open new ones in your name then run up these accounts, spending thousands of dollars. These thieves will then abandon the unpaid accounts, leaving you with damaged credit. An identity thief may also assume your identity altogether, using your name and social security information for an alias, to steal money, or to get a job.

Identity theft effects an estimated 3.3 million, or one in 30 students, and college students are prime candidates for this type of crime. Gregory Meyer, community relations manager at Meriwest Credit Union, told Money College in an email, "I was a bank manager for 15 years. Most of the ID theft cases I handled were for young people."

"A lot of students don't believe they are targets for ID thieves as they have no money," he says. "You don't have to have money to be a target, you only need a name and social security number." Naivety is the main reason students are targeted for identity theft according to Meyer, due to a "cavalier attitude" towards safeguarding information and a lack of experience in financial matters that makes it easy for predators to take advantage.