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College students most at-risk for identity theft

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

College students are being urged to take steps to avoid identity theft as they head back to campus.

The Better Business Bureau issued a release Wednesday that says college students are the most at-risk group for identity theft because of their high use of social media and smartphones.

Steve Bernas is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving northern Illinois.

He says so-called "friendly fraud" makes up more than 20% of identity theft crimes on college campuses. Those cases involve friends, roommates and classmates who access smartphones or social media accounts without permission.

Five steps to fight identity theft on campus from the BBB:

  1. Send sensitive mail to your parents' home or a post office box. School mailboxes are not always secure and can often be accessed easily in a dorm or apartment.
  2. Important documents should be stored under lock and key. This includes your Social Security card, passport, bank and credit card statements. Shred credit card offers and any paper documents that have sensitive financial information rather than just tossing them out.
  3. Never lend your credit or debit card to anyone. It is important to always keep your debit and credit cards in your possession.
  4. Make sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus and spyware software. Always install any updates and patches to your computer's operating system or browser software, which help keep your computer safe from any new advances by identity thieves online.
  5. Always check your credit or debit card statements closely for any suspicious activity. The sooner you identify any potential fraud, the less you'll suffer in the long run.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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