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New “Friendly Fraud” Targets College Students

A new study released by the Better Business Bureau touts college students as the most at-risk group for identity theft.
Class is in session at Northern Illinois University, but students protect your identity.

Freshman Diana Cirstoiu knows first hand about identity theft. Her parents were victims. She's extra careful about giving out her debit card number online, but says fellow students aren't concerned.

"They kind of laugh at me. They're like ‘why are you so cautious about it?’ well you know it happened to my family, so it's just something that I’ve had to go through. I feel like once you go through it then it becomes real," said Cirstoiu.

The crime is called "friendly fraud.” It’s when you know the people that make you a victim; friends, roommates and classmates.

They access information when students leave computers and smart phones unattended.

"You need to, even though you want to trust everyone, you still have to have your guard up and be vigilant about what sort of information you share with these individuals," explained Better Business Bureau Director Dennis Horton.

Experts are warning college students not to list basic information like full names, birthdays, or email addresses on their social media profiles. That’s what makes them targets for criminals.

The BBB advises having students get mail delivered to their parent’s homes. And to keep bank statements, credit card statements, and social security cards locked away.

NIU has paired with local banks to create Money Smart Week teaching students how to avoid identity theft. They stress it could happen to anyone.

"We’re a campus community, but again we're part of society and this is a societal problem so you have to be aware," advised NIU Public Relations Director Paul Palian.

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