Identity theft, young adults at high risk

Identity theft, young adults at high risk

Michael Calvillo
9/14/2007 – Studies showed that identity theft is not much of a concern to young adults. With technological advances, young adults are spending more time online-putting themselves at a high risk of exposing sensitive information.

People between the ages of 18 and 29 experienced the highest levels of identity theft victimization-31 percent of total thefts-according to the Federal Trade Commission’s annual report released earlier this year.

College students do not realize how serious the threat of identity theft actually is, said Johnny May, certified identity theft risk management specialist and author of “Johnny May’s Guide to Preventing Identity Theft.”

“I think [students] believe they don’t have anything worth losing,” May said. “The reality is this makes is easier for identity theft to occur.”

There are many ways to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.

Shredding documents containing personal information, opting out of pre-approved credit card offers, obtaining an updated credit report, installing antivirus software and using firewalls are just a few ways for students to stay secure.

Unfortunately, most young adults are not proactive when it comes to protecting themselves from identity theft.

Adult victims ages 18 to 24 are least likely to take easy, but important, safeguards against identity theft, according to the 2007 Identity Fraud Survey Report released by Javelin Strategy & Research.

Sometimes no amount of preparation can prevent cases of identity theft caused by random acts of theft. Senior mathematics major Yvonne Thornton was a victim of one of many of such serious offenses.

“My purse was stolen from my car about six months ago,” Thornton said. “The thief ended up spending almost 1000 dollars total on two different cards that were in my wallet.”

Thornton has since ordered a credit report and is in the process of making sure that her monetary loss is the only damage done in this situation.

Perhaps the best preventative measure against identity theft is overall awareness of the causes and consequences, said Jennifer Vance Trup, senior liberal studies major.

“Identity theft isn’t something I always think about, but I know that I don’t want to become a victim,” she said. “So, I try to take the necessary steps so that this sort of thing doesn’t happen to me.”

May also stressed the importance of knowledge and understanding.

“Young people are extremely susceptible to identity theft and for this reason, they need to be educated on this topic,” he said.

May developed a new college-level identity theft prevention course, the first of its kind in the country.

He is currently teaching the course at two colleges in Michigan.

“College students need to treat their personal information as if it were gold,” May said. Once it is out there, you can’t take it back.”

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