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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Trend: Kid Identity Theft

Increasingly, thieves are targeting those too young to file a tax return, get an auto loan, or even own a credit card. Of the more than 255,000 identity theft complaints filed with the US Federal Trade Commission in 2005, 5 percent involved people under age 18 - up from 3 percent in 2003 - making that demographic the fastest-growing target for identity thieves. College students and young adults ages 18 to 29 make up 29 percent of those filing complaints.

The under-29 segment is "rapidly growing," says Melodi Mosley Gates, director of information security for Qwest Communications in Denver. "It's a really underserved part of the population. Perhaps it's not as vocal an audience... Young people often don't find out until later that it's happened to them."

Who's is doing it?

Sometimes the thief is a parent. For instance, a 19-year-old woman in California contacted the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) in San Diego after she was denied her first credit card because her mother and aunt had overdrawn a credit account in her name, according to Foley.

Over half of all personal information security breaches are at universities, experts say. Nearly half of all college students have had their grades posted by Social Security number, according to the US Department of Education. The practice sometimes leads to incidents such as one last year at the University of Mississippi, where 700 students' Social Security numbers were listed alongside their names on an open website.

AKI COMMENT: I recall that college was where I was introduced to ID Theft. The campus mailroom was staffed by students and generally shady types and the easy acquisition "mail this in for your new credit card" was gratiously sent in for me...and diverted from my mail delivery, of course. I also recalled that I did absolutely nothing when they called me. Nothing whatsoever. I implemented the "Ignore It Strategy" practiced by so many kids who know nothing, and kinda are embarrased to go ask dad, or simply don't have the dough to pay it (or a lawyer to advise). So I just avoided the calls, then when they finally cornered me, I told them I never even had the damn card. Which they had to believe, but the record is on the victim in the end either way. Luckily, it was just some nominal charges of sneakers and jeans and didn't damage me so badly (though it is still on your record for years).

It occurs to me that the Ignore It Strategy will never work again for future generations!

Check a previous link I posted about ALLOW, a new Teen Credit Cards:

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