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4 Steps To Protect Teens from Identity Theft

Posted on 2015-03-18 09:00:44

Forget about homeworkNo one is immune to becoming an identity theft victim—not even teenagers. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission reports a growing trend in identity theft victims under the age of 18. Teens may be targeted for identity theft because they usually have a clean credit record, and they are less likely to monitor their credit. That alone gives identity thieves a large window of opportunity. The crime may go on for years, discovered only when a young adult applies for credit or a student loan. Sadly, the identity thief may be someone related to the child. It may be a parent who is struggling financially and sees a clean slate by using his or her child’s Social Security number or personal information. Children are often reluctant to report the crime when the perpetrator is a relative—especially when it’s Mom or Dad. Another characteristic of teens that increases their vulnerability to become identity theft victims is their trusting nature. Teens are still figuring out life. One study reports that over one third of teens surveyed admit to sharing at least one username and password with someone other than their parents. This risky behavior can lead to identity theft and other crimes. Friends come and go. A friend today may be an ex-friend tomorrow.

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Teens, here are 4 steps that will help protect you from identity theft. 1. Shred. Shred. Shred. Don’t just toss documents with personal information; shred them. This includes credit card offers which contain enough information for someone else to establish credit in your name. 2. Limit sharing on social media sites. Don’t make your birth date public. Never reveal your address or phone number. You may be proud of getting your driver’s license, but don’t post a picture of it online. Assume that anything posted may fall into the hands of a stranger, and that stranger could be an identity thief. 3. Guard your Social Security number. Identity thieves have hit the jackpot when they score a Social Security number. Don’t make it easy on them. Ask “Why?” before giving your Social Security number to anyone—even schools. You may find it really isn’t needed. Also, don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet. 4. Be careful when using unsecured WiFi in public places. It may be convenient to catch up on things while enjoying a latte friends, but your information may be intercepted. Handle personal business at home with a secure network.
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