MSU graduate shares identity theft warning for fellow college students

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Students will move into their college dorms in Springfield in the coming weeks. Some will be on their own for the first time, but they should be advised, identity theft and fraud are on the rise for college students.

College is a time of new experiences, but for some students, those aren't always exciting.

"Yeah, I'd just moved to Springfield. Just moved into my house. So it was a lot of firsts, and that was a first for me. First life crisis, I guess," said Hannah Brewer.

In her first semester at Missouri State University, someone broke into Brewer's car that was sitting inside her garage. They got her wallet and all of her information. She found out from her bank.

"'We found some suspicious activity. Did you spend the $500-something at Walmart?' I was like, 'That's definitely not me,'" Brewer said.

She cried to her mom over the phone, then jumped into action.

"Cancelled my credit cards, then I called TransUnion to put identity theft on my social security number because my social security card was in my wallet," she said.

The Better Business Bureau said this is happening more often.

"Our young people are being victims," said Stephanie Garland, Springfield BBB Regional Director.

According to data from the Federal Trade Commission, federal student loan fraud increased by 119% last year. People ages 20 to 29 lose money to fraud more often than older folks. So how can you avoid it?

The BBB encourages students to have sensitive mail sent to a permanent address, not a dorm. Students should check their debit and credit card statements often and never loan their debit or credit cards to anyone.

It also recommends students have anti-virus software on their computers, check their credit scores and shred any documents with personal information.

"We just want students to be more aware of what's going on so they can be more protected," Garland said.

Brewer graduated this year and now works as a nurse. She hopes other students don't have to learn their lesson the hard way.

"Don't ever keep your social together with your credit cards or in your wallet, keep them separate. Then you only have one problem to deal with," she said.

Drury University and Missouri State University students will move into their dorms Friday, August 16. Evangel University students will move in Friday, August 23.