The latest Identity Fraud Report by Javelin Strategy and Research was recently released which revealed a staggering 12.6 million cases of identity theft in 2012 in the United States alone, which equates to 1 victim every 3 seconds.
You might be thinking that identity theft will not happen to you, however these shocking figures show that if there is an identity theft victim every 3 seconds, you definitely cannot presume you are safe. Criminals are preying on easy identity theft targets that either mistakenly share their personal details or get tricked into doing so.
Identity Theft Targets – Who Do The Criminals Prey On
Some groups of people are just easy targets for criminals to steal from but it is not always the elderly, as one often thinks. Many unsuspecting people are targeted for all kinds of criminal activity so it is now time to open all eyes.
Children are seen as easy targets for many crimes but not many people think they would be targeted for identity theft. Unfortunately it is happening and they have proved to be the easiest identity theft target of all. Children as young as 6 months old can be victims of identity theft. Sounds crazy, but think about their clean backgrounds and clear credit profiles, not to mention no regular monitoring of their personal records.
In one case, a 14-year-old boy had a 10-year-old credit history that included a mortgage on a $605,000 house! This kind of story is starting to become common news.
Obviously a child cannot take steps to protect their identity and therefore it is the parents responsibility to step up to the plate. Even sharing a child’s social security number with a seemly innocent relative can land your their once clean identity in hot water.
- Hospital records and Doctors
- School records
- Day care centers
- Library cards
- Sports team applications
- Online social networks
College students are just teenagers that think they know everything which makes them the ideal targets for identity theft. They do not believe that they could be a victim of identity theft. We have all been there but with so much easy accessible data on smart phones and laptops, thieves have it easy. College students usually have a device at hand where they have their life stored, literally. Their personal stuff and study data. Not only that, they leave this information lying around in unlocked dorm rooms that are easy prey for thieves.
The Dearly Departed
If you think that someone’s identity is safe because they are dead, think again. Stealing the identity of a dead person with a clear record and name has been one of the oldest types of identity theft. This type of theft 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.
Social Media Users
We’ve all heard the story about the guy that Facebooked and Tweeted about a great holiday he and his family were having only to return home to an empty house. He had given the thieves more than enough information to safely break in to his house, using nothing less than a huge removal van, to clear out the entire house without anyone noticing. This guy was just lucky that these thieves on stole his belongings and not each and every family members identity.
Even though many of us know about these strokes of bad luck, if that’s what you call them, but we still continue to share far too much!
Next time you see a friend share information about a holiday or an outing, politely remind them of this story and get them to remove such information. The dangers of social media are not always that obvious.
Smart Smartphone Users
Everyone has a smart phone and because of this, we are taking them for granted as they are part of our everyday lives. People are storing personal data on these phones which can easily be used to steal an identity. I have found a few phones myself and not one had a password to access. I did access the phones to find the owner, it was just lucky I did not want to steal their identity.
Many smart phones have no security to protect their data which is a crime in itself! Not only that, most of the time people hold detailed contact details of all of their friends and family members too! Crazy stuff considering that a mobile phone is extremely easy to misplace.