Are You A Victim of Identity Theft?

Posted: October 29, 2013 in Articles
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Identity theftIdentity theft has become one of the most serious problems worldwide.

According to the latest Identity Fraud Report by Javelin Strategy and Research, there were 12.6 million cases of identity theft in 2012 in the United States alone, making that 1 million victims more than in 2009.

According to the report, the common causes of identity theft include stolen wallets, familiar fraud (victim knows the fraudster – can be a close friend or relative), online phishing scams and vicious computer viruses such as malwares and spywares,

You may think that identity theft couldn’t happen to you because you are careful with whom you give your important and personal details to. However, identity thieves are also getting smarter by the day about how to get your information. Here are the top 5 people at risk of identity theft, the reasons behind it, and how they can prevent it.

Identity theft

Photo credit: Don Hankins

1. Children

Children make easy targets for identity theft. Even children as young as 5 months old can be victims of identity theft. Why? Aside from their clean backgrounds and unblemished and unused credit profiles, their parents wouldn’t think of monitoring their identity status.

According to reports, fraudsters use child identities to steal, carry out illegal immigration, or wipe a credit score of someone they know by using the child’s score in their place. The victim of the largest fraud was a 16-year old girl. She reported charges of $725, 000 under her name.

Parents should be vigilant in safeguarding their child’s identity. Even a close relative can’t be trusted in terms of social security number, email passwords, and bank statements of the child.

2. College students

College students can be ideal targets for identity theft too. They have clean credit scores and are not that attentive to their banking information. According to a survey of the United States Department of Education, almost 50% of the students leave their personal information inside their dorm rooms, some of which related to their bank accounts and other finances. In addition, college students often use their socials to enroll or for identification purposes. With an accessible Social Security number, the thief can commit the crime easily.

College students should be protective of their social security numbers and other bank accounts and should not leave any trace of such information on receipts or papers.

3. Deceased

If you think the dead are safe from identity hackers, you’re mistaken. Some identity thieves assume the identity and clean credit lines of dead people. According to Time Magazine, that’s about 2.5 million dead people every year. These thieves have been applying for credit cards, new phone services, and loans. This can be devastating for the family members of the deceased, both emotionally and financially.

The crime begins with thieves getting data from hospitals, funeral homes, and obituaries. To prevent this, don’t include the birth date, mother’s maiden name or other identifiers in the obituaries list. You should also report the death to Social Security and check the credit report of the person a few weeks later.

4. Social media users

As a result of today’s intimate behavior towards social media, many have become a victim of identity theft. This is because these people either share their birthday, high school name, phone number, pet’s name or all of these sensitive data on their social media profiles, which can be used to verify identities or even passwords.

One thing to do is not to give away far too much personal information on your social networking sites such as Twitter, Google +, and Facebook. This will stop frauds from stealing identities.

5. Smartphone owners

Nowadays, PDAs, tablet PCs and smartphones are among the gadgets of choice for communication. However, as mini-computers that can store important data, they can also be golden opportunities for identity thieves.

According to a recent study, 6 in 20 smartphone users don’t use a password to protect their phones, while others save their login information on their mobile devices. Once the device gets stolen, so does their identity.

To prevent this, always lock your phone with a PIN and add apps that can track and report the location of your phone. Ask your wireless carrier how to erase stored data if the phone is lost, and like any other computer, be restrictive of the sites you open.

Even after doing the aforementioned security tips, you should also consider getting an identity theft protection plan. LegalShield has just unveiled a new identity theft plan to further help you monitor and restore your identity.

About the author

A writer and entrepreneur, Melissa Page is based in San Diego, California. She writes about business and finance and offers insights on how to handle personal finances. Aside from writing, she also loves traveling and books.

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