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College students are biggest target for identity theft

Published On: Dec 24 2013 03:54:26 AM EST   Updated On: Aug 21 2013 11:28:45 PM EDT

A new trend targets college aged people in identity theft scams.

SALEM, Va. -

Every three seconds, someone's identity is stolen - and college students are the biggest target for identity theft.

"This is the first generation that has social media, smart phones, filling out all kinds of stuff on the internet. They've just put their personal information out there without thinking of the consequences,” Julie Wheeler of Better Business Bureau said.

Consequences like:

"The least serious scenario is that you have a credit card or a debit card and somebody missuses it,” Wheeler said, "The next serious is using that credit card to get another card issued that you don't know exists. Probably the worst, though, would be a whole stolen identity where they get hold of your social security number and they use it."

Thieves can use your information for health insurance, more credit or even for illegal activities. It can ruin your credit for up to 7 years and maybe beyond and its the young adults, new to credit who are frequent targets.

"The age group 20 to 29 make up 21 percent of identity theft victims. That's a huge shift, it used to be 60 to 69 year olds," Wheeler said.

That said, young adults and college students need to be proactive to protect their financial future.

"Shred any documents that have personal information on them. Keep your important stuff; have it mailed to your home. Don't have your original social security card with you," Wheeler said.

"Just learning good habits, just make sure your check your statements thoroughly," Wheeler said.

Learning these now can better ensure financial success later.

Wheeler suggests checking your credit regularly.

There could be fraudulent charges or even open accounts you don't know about.