Young adults ages 18 to 24 at biggest risk for credit card fraud

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COLUMBIA - With school back in session, the mid-Missouri Better Business Bureau is concerned with students and credit card fraud.

The mid-Missouri Better Business Bureau manager Mike Harrison said that young adults ages 18 to 24 are at the greatest risk for identity theft and credit card fraud. He said he thinks it is due to the generations comfort with sharing personal information.

"It is easy to over share information via social media, we don't realize how much information is out there, including our name, phone numbers, and birth dates," Harrison said. "A lot of identity thieves actually troll those websites and what is scary about it is they can open a credit profile with your information."

Harrison said this age group is also at risk due to their lack of established credit.

"It is attractive to them because most college students have a relatively clean credit history and so it is easy to set up credit using their information," Harrison said. "It can sometimes take a while before college students know that their identity has been stolen."

Harrison said on average, it takes young adults about 130 days to find out their identity has been stolen compared to other age groups. He also said that on average, 18 to 24 year olds lose about 11 hundred dollars, which is five times more than other age groups.

"That's why there is a concern with this group, so we just encourage them to start forming financial habits now and hope that they stay with them for a lifetime," Harrison said.

One Columbia parent Deb Linneman has a child who is a senior at MU. She said she has began teaching her daughter certain financial habits, like checking her bank statement regularly. Just in case, her and her husband still double check.

"We get statements at home, and even though they claim they look online, we still like to check that too," Linneman said.

Linneman does these things to make sure her daughter doesn't end up like sophomore student Ally McElroy. She has had her identity stolen twice in the last year.

"The first time was over the summer, someone stole my credit card in New York," McElroy said. "They spent about two thousand dollars on gas and food and things like that."

It took McElroy three months to realize her credit card was stolen. She didn't realize it until after her credit card continually got denied.

McElroy said the second time she ran into trouble was when she had her social security number stolen due to her dad filling out a FAFSA form on a fake website. This time she noticed it much earlier.

"The second time I realized a lot quicker because I had been keeping up with my bank accounts, and checking my statements more regularly," McElroy said. "It definitely was an eye opener."

Besides checking your bank statements regularly, Harrison also mentioned some other helpful tips for young adults. These tips include, updating your social media privacy settings, getting a personal P.O. box, and shred any credit card offers received in the mail.