College students are being targeted for identity theft according to officials

FARGO, ND (Valley News Live) - School will soon be back in session for college students. With plenty of things to prepare, keeping yourself or your child safe from identity theft might be one of the last things on your mind.

"When you get into college, you're not really thinking about I need to protect my social security number, you're worried about all these classes and constantly studying," said Pranay Marella, a junior in college.

While you’re studying on campus using public WiFi or applying for that internship that seems a little too good to be true, Consumer Reports says there are people out there looking to prey on eager students that may not know any better.

Marella says he's experienced this first hand through phone calls and emails.

"It just asks if you want an internship with this guy who's currently a professor that is abroad and he needs you to do some easy office work for $5,000 for the summer," Marella said.

Then it asks for your personal information.

Marella says it's easy for students to get swept up at the moment and not think about how it could impact your security.

Abbie Thill, an NDSU graduate student, says she's not surprised either that college students are being targeted.

"Sometimes taking a second to pause and ask why they are asking for that information is not always something that folks do, especially if you are not trained to be thoughtful in that," Thill said.

But that's exactly what Jeremy Straub, Associate Director for NDSU’s Institute for Cyber Security Education and Research, wants students to do; Start asking questions when people or websites ask for your information.

Straub said to ask, "Do I really need to fill this out, why do I need to fill this out, and who am I really giving it to?"

He says that before college students head off to school, parents also need to sit down and talk with them about this threat.

"When your child is getting old enough that they need to know their social security number or other critical identifying information, driver's license number and so forth, you should make it very clear when they can use that information and when they simply need to check with you before using it," Straub said.

Officials say as the fall begins to creep closer, now is the time to start thinking about cyber safety.

NDSU Resources: https://www.ndsu.edu/cybersecurity/

Identity Theft Prevention Tips: https://www.consumerreports.org/identity-theft/college-students-face-risk-of-identity-theft/