Identity theft is growing very rapidly and no one can claim immunity. Right from babies to old grandfather, everyone can come under the clutches of identity theft. All you can do is take smart precautionary steps to prevent such theft.
Let us have a look at the main targets of identity thieves.
1. Children – You may be shocked to find out a four year old child having 15 page credit histories with multiple mortgages! Studies show that about 50,000 children are victims of identity theft every year. It is obvious that children will not have any credit history, and thieves can get away with their fortune safely.
The root of identity theft for children is their social security number. You should be very selective about submitting the social security number of your child. There are many agencies and people requiring this number. Office of doctors, daycare centers and even recreation facilities will demand their social security number! You should think twice before furnishing your child’s number to any institution.
Well it is essential to you social security number to your doctor for getting necessary treatment. However you should confirm with the office of your doctor about the system of storage and disposal of patient information. For all other places where you feel that putting such number is unnecessary, you should refuse to do it.
2. Teenagers – Once the children leave your house and move on, there is no one to educate them about their safety. Carelessness about their letters, wallets or cell phones can put them in dark troubles. It is a common practice for identity thieves to check the thrash in the campus of educational institutions to find out pre-approved credit card offers, which credit card companies keep on sending them.
You should advise your children to take protective steps like destroying their unwanted letters properly and submitting their social security number selectively. Maybe you can gift a paper shredder for your child! You should also train your child about reconciling his/her bank statements regularly. Even if a small sum is stolen from his bank account, it is a sign of danger and he should immediately take steps like closing the account and reporting the incident.
3. Elderly people – The elderly people in US are at the greatest risk out of all the age groups. The reasons are many – they may not be able to protect themselves, they are likely to fall into traps of identity thieves with easily, they are likely to have big money in their retirement accounts and they are not regular in checking their accounts. For example, the Medicare system uses the social security number as their main identity. This number is printed on the top of their record card. They need to carry this card for all their visits to medical facilities. All their correspondence with the medical facilities will mention the social security number on the top of the letter! These letters may be stolen from the mailbox. There is also a big possibility of left of their wallets and purses.
For elderly people, it is advisable to take the help of an ID security agency. Many agencies are there in the market offering these services. These agencies will install a system under which they can monitor the Internet and other public records to confirm that the credit card, ATM card, social security number on any other information of a person is not used fraudulently. The services are getting cheaper these days and it may be worthwhile for the elderly people to subscribe to one of them.
About 12 million people in US suffer from identity crimes every year. To protect you and your family, you have to be vigilant.