Teenagers at Higher Risk of Identity Theft than Older Adults
You’d think you wouldn’t have to worry about something as scary sounding as identity theft until you were out of college and working in the real world. According to the experts, though, children and teens are prime targets in this growing crime for a couple of reasons. For one thing, reports the Identity Theft Resource Center, many young people have unblemished credit reports or no credit report at all. And, they make easy targets because the theft may not be realized until years later, when the victim tries to open a new checking account or apply for that first credit card. Experts at the Qwest 2004 Summit on Protecting Teens from Identity Theft found that teens tend to be more careless about sharing personal information, especially on the Internet.
Here are a few tips to help you keep your identity safe:
- Be smart online. Since most identity theft is done on the Internet, learn about the scams out there. Don’t give away personal information, even if they appear to be from a legitimate source. If you shop online, make sure you’re on a secure Web site.
- Know what can be used to steal your identity. Thieves can use your Social Security number, driver’s license, credit union account and credit information to obtain credit fraudulently, buy stuff or even conduct illegal business transactions. Even seemingly trivial information can give thieves or scammers an edge.
- Guard your personal information. Coaches, teachers, employers or other adults might ask for your personal information. Ask why it is needed, how it will be used and how the adult will protect it from theft.
- Never lend personal information. Don’t lend your driver’s license, Social Security card or other form of personal identification to anyone – even your best friend.
- Check your credit. Review your credit union statement and credit card statements for irregularities every month. Ask your parents about ordering your one free credit report each year from a credit-reporting agency. The report will list all credit accounts, loans and other debts in your name.