I.D. Theft - College students put on alert

By Gray Hall - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – School is just around the corner and there is a warning for college students: you may have a big target on your back - identity theft is a constant issue. On top of dealing with all that comes with being a college student the Better Business says students must make protecting their identity a priority.

College days can be filled with fun and great memories, but if you are not careful fun times could quickly turn into bad experiences.

"My mom is always telling me don't put everything on the computer, but she is right you have to be very careful about that kind of stuff, you have to very mindful," said VCU student Azalea James.

The BBB says ever year, college students are among the millions of identity theft victims.

"They have all got laptops. They are all on computers. They have all got private information on there. They all have credit cards and the vulnerability is really high. Look at the concentration of population. If you wanted to be an ID thief what a great place to go," said Tom Gallagher, with the Richmond BBB.

Police at Virginia Common Wealth University are constantly trying to protect the students from I.D. theft.

"It does happen here, and we are aware it happens here, and we do have ways to try and help prevent it," said VCU Police Officer Della Herlong.

VCU officers say they conduct safety talks with students, and encourage them to register their computers with campus police.

"I think a lot of young people are naive. They are coming to college for the first time, and some of them are leaving home for the first time, and they don't think about stuff like that and they do loan their card out not thinking anything is going to happen and unfortunately it does," said Herlong.

Here are some ways you can protect yourself. Instead of school mail boxes, have your sensitive mail sent to a permanent address like your parents home. Always keep important documents like passports under lock and key, never loan your credit or debit card to anyone, and always make sure your computer's anti-virus program is up to date. Students we talked say staying alert is a constant challenge.

"Even if you are not in your room or you step out for a quick second you need to lock your door because a lot of kids will pull the fire alarm to get you out the room and go in and take what they can....it's crazy," said VCU student Shana Martin.

VCU police say ATM cards and computers are the most common items stolen on campus. They say if you feel you are a victim -- don't wait contact police.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.