When looking at how identity theft works, it’s important to realize that risk levels aren’t the same for everyone. Although sophisticated technology and global networks have increased potential identity theft worldwide, thieves have started targeting some groups of people more frequently.
Are you in the bull’s-eye to become a victim of identity theft? People who fall into one of these three categories just might be:
Children: A social security number is often necessary to enroll children in school or to get medical coverage. The Social Security Administration suggests that parents obtain these numbers for newborns, and many hospitals make the process simple by tying an application together with birth certificate filing.
social security numbers have become a major target for identity thieves, who see children’s identities as “blank slates” that they can use to apply for credit or commit fraud. Some people end up having to deal with collection agencies, credit reporting firms and healthcare systems for decades because they were victims of identity theft as children.
College students: Although colleges have moved away from using social security numbers on student ID cards, college students often have to give out their SSN and other identifying information when applying for a credit card or financial aid, getting jobs and filling out other paperwork. They become vulnerable to potential identity theft, too, by sharing too much information on social media, such as birthdate, mother’s maiden name, address or birthplace.
College students can also be more of a “blank slate” than older adults because they often haven’t established an extensive credit history yet or don’t have identity theft protection in place. An article in the Financial Times notes that college students are five times more likely to be victims of identity theft than the general public.
Seniors: Unlike children and college students, seniors tend to have strong credit histories and usually carry less credit card debt than other age groups, which makes them attractive to creditors — and also to identity thieves. Older people are also less likely to check their credit reports on a regular basis since they’re usually not looking to make major purchases like a new home or car, or to establish a new line or credit.
A particular concern is that a Medicare card ID is the same as the person’s social security number, so loss of a wallet or purse can mean potential identity theft. Challenges with confusion or cognitive impairment can make the situation even more fraught with risk.
Others at Risk
Two other major target groups for identity thieves are members of the military and those who are recently deceased (creating headaches for their heirs), according to an article in U.S. News & World Report.
Even though some people might be targeted more often, remember potential identity theft is a risk for everyone. Be sure to consider our identity protection services to help keep your identity safe.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Erika.