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EIU Students Saw Damage on Their Credit Caused by ID Theft

By Faye Mergel
Published: Monday, January 18th, 2010

Identity theft experts say college students can be easier targets by crooks. Students of Eastern Illinois University (EIU) could well attest to that. A computer virus has just recently put the personal information of thousands of students and college applicants at risk for ID theft, leaving them worried about what could happen to their credit. However, specialists assure students that they can prevent crooks from causing damage if they keep track of their credit report.

EIU Students Saw Damage on Their Credit Caused by ID Theft Financial health coordinator Jackie See says she has spoken to students who have lost thousands of dollars because of identity theft. The crime, which is the fastest growing in the United States, is a serious problem for everyone but college students are seen as easier targets.

See enumerates practices by many college students which make them more vulnerable to ID thieves: they let their Social Security number easily accessed, do not keep their receipts, do not balance their checkbook, and receive credit card or loan offers through mail. See remarks that youngsters are inexperienced when it comes to handling their finances. The coordinator warned that ID thieves can do a lot of damage if they have a person’s name, address, and Social Security number.

When fall semester ended, 9,000 students who sought admission in EIU had their personal information compromised because of a malware virus. The virus opened outside access to the electronic application data of some college applicants between Nov. 11 and Nov. 16. Social Security numbers, mailing addresses, and other personal identifying information are contained in the server, placing those students at risk for the crime. Administrators put the server under investigation after noticing suspicious activity. Adam Dodge, Eastern’s technology officer, assures students though that not all who applied during that period are considered to be at high risks. Just a small percentage of them, he says during an edition of the university newspaper.

For their protection, the university has provided free credit monitoring and ID theft protection for current students and applicants.

See tells students that they would know ID theft has occurred if there are unknown opening of credit cards, mortgage, or bank accounts under their name. See adds that everyone must be more careful about their finances with the expansion of technology. ID theft specialists say the best way to deter ID thieves is by checking a credit report regularly.

The three largest credit bureaus in the country—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—are required by federal law to give one free credit report to consumers once a year. See suggests check a credit report regularly for anyone who is above 18 years old.

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