We’re all prone to identity theft, but young adults age 18 to 24 are more at risk than any other group. It takes these consumers an average of 132 days to detect fraud and identity theft, according to Javelin’s Identity Fraud Survey Report. That’s almost four times as high as the 45 to 54 age group, which detects identity theft within 39 days. Seniors older than 65 detect identity theft the fastest, within 29 days.
Time online = ID theft risk?
Coincidentally, this group of young adults also spends the most time online. Apparently, they’re not spending using their time online to check up on their identity. Instead, they may be giving away personal information that leads to identity theft. Young adults tend be more comfortable about the information they post in the internet. This is definitely one of the things that puts them at higher risk of identity theft.
Victims’ consequences of ID Theft
Identity theft could pose significant problems for this age group as they prepare to enter the real world. Unfortunately, a stolen identity might not be apparent until the young adult applies for his or her first credit card, car loan, or apartment. Identity theft can keep young adults from buying houses or even getting jobs.
Preventing ID theft with young adults
The steps to prevent and detect identity theft aren’t much different between age groups. It’s a matter of educating consumers who wouldn’t ordinarily be exposed to this type of information. It’s up to parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and college professors to teach students the importance of keeping personal information private.
Shred credit card applications rather than tossing them into the trash. A thief could retrieve these applications, fill them out, and get a new credit card in the your name. Note: credit card companies are no longer allowed to send unsolicited applications to consumers under 21.
Avoid storing passwords in laptops and mobile phone devices. You may not actually type your passwords into a document called “Passwords,” but even allowing your computer and phone to remember passwords is dangerous. If your phone or computer is lost or stolen, a thief has immediate access to your accounts.
Be careful which websites you visit in public. Whether you’re using public Wi-Fi or your phone’s network, a hacker could get access to your password or email. Handle business transactions like bill paying and checking your account balance in a safe place using a network you can trust.
Be careful what information you share on social networking sites. Information like a name or city might be meaningless when it’s posted individually, but an identity theft can string together things you’ve said online and use them against you. For example, two men were arrested in Hoover, Alabama after burglarizing homes they knew would be empty because of information gleaned from Facebook.
Identity theft is a costly crime. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a few years to scrub your identity completely clean after you’ve been victimized. All it takes is a few steps to keep yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft.
Source: Javelin Strategy and the Washington Post