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Teens Identity Theft

Identity Thieves Target Teens

Identity theft, the fastest growing crime in the United States, has taken on a new twist. Now the prime target group is teens. According to the Federal Trade Commission's report, one third of all identity theft victims are between 18 and 29 years old. Young people and teenagers are more vulnerable to this credit fraud than adults because most of them don't have established credit reports that can be monitored.

Identity thieves don't steal your money - they steal your name and other personal information and use them for their own profit. Being a teen does not safeguard you against identity theft. You don't need a well-established credit history to become a victim. Vice versa, clean credit records are more valuable to thieves because the crime can go unnoticed for years.

Even if you don't have a credit report, identity thieves can start it instead you. They can open credit cards or loans and make significant charges under your name. When it's time for you to get a student loan, you may not qualify because of the fraudulent credit activity.

The experts warn that younger age group tends to be less careful about sharing personal information. They can post personal information online without realizing that it could trigger identity theft. Social networking sites like MySpace or FaceBook are perfect places for identify thieves to find victims.

Many kids are careless with their belongings. They leave their purses and handbags around without thinking about what can happen.

The next trap is bogus job offers to which young adults need to reply with their full name, address, curriculum vitae, telephone numbers, and banking details.

If your personal information is stolen, it can seriously jeopardize your financial future. You may spend months repairing the damage caused to your credit record. Even though you have not committed a crime or abused your credit, you will suffer severe financial consequences. During the time it takes to solve these problems, you may lose good job opportunities or be refused student credit cards or loans. If you want to minimize your credit exposure and reduce the risk of becoming a victim, there are several guidelines you need to take into consideration:

  • Shred unwanted documents that contain your personal information.
  • Don't leave mail in your mailbox for a long time.
  • Don't keep a written record of your PIN numbers, SSN and computer passwords in your wallet or hand bag.
  • Use more complex and longer PINs and passwords and change them from time to time. Don't use your PIN as a password.
  • Sign your credit and debit cards as soon as you receive them.
  • Review your credit reports annually to ensure they don't include debts or unauthorized transactions.
  • Never loan your credit cards to anyone.
  • Avoid mail or telephone lotteries or surveys designed to obtain your personal or credit information.
  • When somebody asks you to provide your personal information, ask how it will be used, why it is needed, who will be sharing it and how it will be protected.
  • Be very careful about your SSN: it is a key data to your identity, especially in credit reports.

Comments

Megan
06:06 AM, July 22, 2008
I have a teen-aged son. I try to teach him the basics about being a good consumer, such as living within his means and safeguarding his financial information.
Raymond Mullen
01:06 AM, August 04, 2008
Kids are kids. It's difficult to teach them to be carefull. They want to learn from their own mistakes.
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