Featured Article | A Pothole in Your Pathway: Teen Identity Theft
Identity theft — uttering this term evokes images of an unknown, middle-aged individual wearing a sinister ski mask while sifting through strands of computer code to grab a hold of Granny’s credit card number that she has entered on a spoofed Website. The imagination transitions to the next scene that depicts the same cyber-criminal using the ill-gotten digits to buy big-ticket items like smart TVs and computers, or to escape on a luxurious tropical vacation while Granny cries out in distress as she is pinned with major credit card debt and endless calls of collectors that threaten to seize her assets. Identity theft may not seem like a problem that should concern teens, yet as we come of age, our credit history and online identity readily comes into play.
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, “Identity theft occurs when an unauthorized person uses your personal identifying information to start new credit accounts, commit crimes in your name, get loans and even perhaps a job (2017).
For starters, as we approach our later teen years, we get a taste of more financial responsibility. We open our own checking accounts–fully equipped with a debit card through which we can make purchases online or offline. While in high school, we might apply for a new job with a goal to save up for a new set of wheels. We might even consider paying for college by taking out student loans. Considering these factors of newfound freedom and the future plans that are soon to become present realities, identity theft among teens is a more relevant issue than one might think. In fact, adolescents are prime targets. One study by Carnegie Mellon shows that teens are twice as likely as their parents to become victims of identity theft. (Moyer, 2016). Here’s why:
First of all, children and teens have a clean credit history. Secondly, teens share their information online; particularly on social media. Often, this crime occurs through security breaches on personal computers, yet mobile devices that link to open, public Wi-Fi hotspots are even more at risk of having information stolen. Considering that the majority of teens (73%) own a smartphone and 71% of teens use more than one social network, we really need to know how to prevent our information and identity from falling into the wrong hands (Pew, 2015).
According to a study by ID Analytics, a software company specializing in fighting fraud, 140,000 minors are victims of identity fraud each year. Even when adults are victims of this crime, incidents often go unnoticed until the person wants to take some sort of important action such as opening up a credit card account or taking out an auto loan. When teens are victims of identity theft, the problem may go undetected for years, only emerging when they try to take out student loans for college or finance a car. College loan, application and enrollment deadlines are something fierce, so being denied financial aid during this process can put a big damper on post-secondary plans. Identity theft may also involve a stolen driver’s license ID or Social Security Number illegally obtained either online or in person. Such is the case when one teen from Albany tried to apply for a job at Walmart when she was told that she was already an employee. She later discovered that a man had purchased her SSN on the dark Web. (Lathrop, 2011). The big question is: Why wait to protect your identity after your information has been stolen thus obstructing an important life step? You can take control of your identity, first, by improving your digital habits:
Find out how your online actions can allow a devious individual to access your account as easily as saying “Open Sesame.”
Go to Article → Featured Article | A Pothole in Your Pathway: Open Sesame
Consider how much information you share on your social media profile and in your posts. Are you aiding in your own identity theft by giving away Pieces of Information?
Go to Article → Featured Article | A Pothole in Your Pathway: Pieces of Information
Whether you are shopping online or interacting with friends on social networks, you hold the key to protecting your identity. Take note of these Social Media Privacy Pointers.
Go to Article → Featured Article | A Pothole in Your Pathway: Social Media Privacy Pointers
Follow these 8 tips to prevent identity theft, and then share them on social media!
Go to Article → iDrive Agent: 8 Tips to Prevent Identity Theft on Social Media
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Brenner, Joanna. “73% of Teens Have Access to a Smartphone; 15% Have Only a Basic Phone.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. 08 Apr. 2015. Web. www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/09/teens-social-media-technology-2015/pi_2015-04-09_teensandtech_06/
Carrns, Ann. “Why, and When, Your Child Should Have a Debit Card.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 14 Oct. 2016. Web. www.nytimes.com/2016/10/15/your-money/why-and-when-your-child-should-have-a-debit-card.html
Grant, Kelli B. “Identity Theft, Fraud Cost Consumers More than $16 Billion.” CNBC. CNBC, 01 Feb. 2017. Web. www.cnbc.com/2017/02/01/consumers-lost-more-than-16b-to-fraud-and-identity-theft-last-year.html
Identity Theft Resource Center. “Teen Space FAQs.” ID Theft Center. Web. http://www.idtheftcenter.org/Protect-yourself/teen-faq.html
Lathrop, Steve. Democrat-Herald, Albany. “Albany Teen Victim of ID Theft.” Albany Democrat Herald.19 Dec. 2011. Web. www.democratherald.com/news/local/albany-teen-victim-of-id-theft/article_c42188cc-2828-11e1-ae48-0019bb2963f4.htm
Moyer, Phillip. “Rip-Off Alert: Social Media Habits Make Teens Easy ID Theft Targets.” KSNV. Web. http://news3lv.com/archive/rip-off-alert-social-media-habits-make-teens-easy-id-theft-targets
“News Room – ID Analytics.” ID Analytics. Web. news3lv.com/archive/rip-off-alert-social-media-habits-make-teens-easy-id-theft-targets
Pascual, Al, Marchini, K., Miller, S. “2017 Identity Fraud: Securing the Connected Life.” Javelin. N.p., 01 Feb. 2017. Web. www.javelinstrategy.com/coverage-area/2017-identity-fraud
“Teens, Social Media, and Privacy.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. 21 May 2013. Web. www.pewinternet.org/2013/05/21/teens-social-media-and-privacy-3/