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Consumer advocates warn college students about being targets of identity theft

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STEVENS POINT (WAOW) - Many students heading back to college are busy with books and moving into dorms. But according to consumer advocates, they should be concerned with something that may not be on the top of their college list: protecting themselves from identity theft.

University officials at UW-Stevens Point say scammers are getting ready to target them.

"It's easy to let things slip and these people these hackers they count on them because they just want to sneak in," said Peter Zuge, the university's information security officer.

The Federal Trade Commission says one in five identity theft victims are in their 20's. At UW-Stevens Point, officials say two or three students each semester suffer identity theft.

"Some people have responded to a phishing email or they've given away their social security number, sometimes there's credit card fraud," said Zuge.

Students say they are trying their hardest to protect their cards and stay out of that security office.

"I've got a locking box thing that I can keep my laptop and stuff in," said Amy Sandel of Oconomowoc.

"I've got a little case in my room it's under lock and it's pretty heavy, so even if you try to pick it up it's going to take a lot of effort," said Austin Schlechta of Menomonee Falls.

But a university security expert says there's more security tools than just a lock box. He says anti virus and firewalls for online also help.

"If you get an email that asks for sensitive data, you should call the company directly to verify that email before you put any of that information in an email," said Zuge.

So these students have to worry about studying for their next test, not identity theft.

Consumer protection experts urge students to shred school registration forms, health insurance documents, bank and credit card statements, even credit card offers that arrive in the mail.
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