Identity Theft Prevention – Talk to Your Teen
Today’s tech‑savvy teens face threats to their identity as soon as they join the electronic age of social media, smart phones and internet browsing. If they chat, download information or create a social network without knowing the risks to their identity or how to avoid them, their futures are at stake. “Parents invest a lot of time into their children’s future. Educating children on how to protect their identity can help make sure that their future is not limited by bad credit or worse from identity theft,” said LBA Chief Executive Officer Robert Taylor.
Identity theft is a felony involving fraud or attempted fraud by using a person’s identifying information without authority. And thieves do not need much information to steal someone’s identity. A name, address, Social Security number and birth date are more than enough to let a stranger pretend to be your teen. Here are some of the most common ways identity thieves can obtain a teen’s personal information:
‑ Stealing a purse or wallet containing debit and identification cards
– Stealing a birth certificate, passport or other documents during a home burglary
‑ Digging through garbage cans or dumpsters for canceled checks, bank statements and pre‑approved credit card offers
– Hacking into computers that contain personal records
– Filing a change of address form in your teen’s name to divert mail and gather personal and financial data.
– Phish, that is, send a legitimate looking email directing a teen to a phony website asking for personal and financial data.
While teens (or adults) cannot completely protect themselves from identity theft, there are steps they can take to reduce the chances of becoming a victim.
– Teens should never give their personal information to anyone, including their friends. When they are asked, always find out why and how that information will be used. Parents should then approve or disapprove the sharing of the requested information.
– Remind teens to safeguard checks, bank account numbers and credit and debit card numbers. Teens should also monitor their account statements for suspicious activities.
– Shred any documents that contain sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers, birth dates or account numbers, before throwing them in the trash.
– Teach teens to use the password and key lock features on their cell phones. Teens should also use passwords to protect their laptop computers.
– Teens should limit the information that they post on social networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook.
– Teens should carry only what they need in their wallets, especially when it comes to credit cards and identification cards. Let teens know never to carry their Social Security card.
– Be aware of others when entering PIN numbers or completing bank statements. Thieves can capture personal information using cell phone cameras.
– Show your teen how to monitor their annual credit reports. Federal law requires the three major credit reporting agencies to provide a free report once a year. Request credit reports from www.pnnualcreditreoort.com or (877) 322‑8228.
– Teach teens to be suspicious of any email with urgent requests for personal financial information. Teens should avoid filling out forms in email messages that ask for personal financial information and always ensure that they are using a secure website when submitting credit card or other sensitive information via a Web browser.
For more information about identity theft, visit the National Crime Prevention Council’s Identity Theft campaign: www.ncpc.or/newsroom/current-campaigns/identity-theft the Identity Theft Resource Center: www.idtheftcenter.org or the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Site: www.ftc.gov/idtheft