Three of the 23,000 people whose Social Security numbers were stolen from a University of Utah computer file have reported someone attempted to use their identities to apply for credit cards.

Last week, the university disclosed that a computer hacker had stolen up to 23,000 faculty, staff and student Social Security numbers in April.On Wednesday, a U. police detective said three of the victims have reported what appears to be attempted credit card fraud.

"Three out of 23,000 is a very small number," said Detective Mike McPharlin. "I'd say at this point it is a coincidence. But we're looking at it seriously."

Social Security numbers can be used to obtain bank accounts, loans and credit cards.

"Initially, I thought this was a probably some 18-year-old computer-science kid who just wanted to see if he could do it," said McPharlin.

U. officials said that could still be the case, but they are advising people whose numbers were stolen to call the nation's three top credit bureaus and request a fraud alert tag on their accounts.