Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America. Nearly 11 million credit card holders each year are victims of identity theft. While everyone is vulnerable, trends show that identity thieves are increasingly targeting children and job seekers.
Ingenious identity theft scams
Victims of identity theft in the U.S. lost an average of $4,840 in 2009, according to Javelin Strategy and Research. New forms of identity theft are constantly emerging. Claudia Buck at the Sacramento Bee reports that three men were busted in Los Angeles last week for using electronic gadgets to scan credit card numbers at numerous gas station pumps. Buck writes that the state government in California has been warning about phony e-mails telling taxpayers their electronic tax payments did not go through. Identity theft is on the rise in every state, and thieves spend a lot of energy to coming up with the next scam.
Employers don’t need personal information
In the moribund job market, identity thieves see an opportunity to kick people while they’re down. Alison Doyat at About.com writes that identity thieves are adept at creating websites that look like legitimate companies or agencies. An obvious red flag is raised if an online entity asks for personal data other than contact information at the beginning of the application process. Other red flags include ads promoting pay that seems too high for the job or offering payment in cash. Job seekers posting resumes at online career sites should never include Social Security numbers, birth dates or drivers license numbers.
Things parents should know
Identity thieves make big money exploiting children. Modern Mom reports that because children have a clean credit history, they’re lucrative targets. Children or parents commonly don’t discover they have been victimized until years later, when the kid applies for a credit card. Banks and the Social Security Administration do not give out birth dates, so credit reporting firms can’t verify age. Identity thieves often open lines of credit with a child’s identity when a parent loses a wallet or purse holding personal data like a child’s Social Security card. The easiest way to see if a child’s identity has been stolen is to request a credit report. No credit report on file means they’re safe … for the time being.