Teenager identity theft is on the rise because children and teenagers are easy targets. In general, young people don’t need credit until they are ready to buy their first car or apply for their first credit card and student loan. According to the Federal Trade Commission statistics, young people account for 31% of all reported identity theft cases annually. Some of the problems associated with child identity theft are that the theft can go undetected for a very long time and when it is detected, it can take a long time to resolve the issue preventing the young person to start the grown-up life. One of the reasons that a teenager identity theft case is not detected soon enough is because the teenager and the parents think that having “no credit” can not be interesting or valuable to anyone and fail to educate themselves and monitor the identity early enough to detect identity theft. Also, companies are often eager to recruit and retain young and potentially loyal customers which make their identities even more vulnerable since no one expects any credit let alone good credit.
Young people have more opportunities than ever before to share their personal information and expose themselves to identity theft. Although our society now requires certain level of online socialization whether it is to perform tasks such as registering for courses, texting, emailing, and video messaging, youngsters can still be more diligent and share just enough information to reach their objectives without giving too much away. Below are a few tips for young people and their parents to keep in mind:
· Think before you share your information. Always inquire about who needs my information and why. Once information is shared, it is often hard to get it back, so make sure only responsible parties have your personal information.
· Avoid populating all the fields in your online profile. Many sites ask you to provide your date of birth, place of birth, etc. If these fields are not mandatory, don’t share the information.
· Don’t use critical information such as social security number or date of birth as your identification or user name.
· Make it a habit to monitor bank accounts as often as possible to detect fraud on a timely basis.
· Store important documents like the social security card and birth certificate in a safe and secure location.
· Only carry with you what you are emotionally ready to lose and live without. Avoid carrying multiple credit cards and other personal items which you don’t need or use on a daily basis. For example, don’t carry Social Security cards in your wallet.
· Be aware of new roommates and what you keep in your shared room. Most people are nice and honest but it only takes one bad apple to destroy your trust in all people. Trust others but guard your personal belongings.
· Sign up for automated credit monitoring early on. It’s usually a good idea that at a minimum a young person’s identity is monitored about 2 years prior to when credit will be needed in order to detect teenager identity theft cases and have sufficient time resolve and clear the incident. Otherwise, some important goals such as starting college may be delayed.