I’ve been posting a lot about the culture of fear that has been created around the internet as it relates to online predators. The reality is that most teens are pretty savvy about ignoring sexual predators online — what they’re not as savvy about is identity theft. It’s a nightmare for victims, filling out a rental application only to discover your credit has been completely destroyed. Evidently just posting your first and last name, date of birth, and high school is enough for a criminal to attempt to open a credit card account in your name. Teens are prime targets for identity theft because they have no credit history giving thieves a clean slate. According to this article from the BBC:
Credit information group Equifax said members of sites such as MySpace, Bebo and Facebook may be putting too many details about themselves online.It said fraudsters could use these details to steal someone’s identity and apply for credit and benefits.
According to a recent local news story, here are the top five ways teens can have their identity stolen online:
* Posting your real name, address, date of birth and high school on a social networking site like MySpace or Facebook.
* Talking with strangers online and meeting them in person.
* Filling in your social security number in an online job application.
* Not being able to recognize scam emails or phishing scams.
* Storing personal information, like your social security number or bank pin number in your phone.
A good resource for information and support for victims of identity theft is The Identity Theft Resource Center. You can also listen to a podcast interview with Larry Magid and Linda Foley from The Identity Theft Resource Center about this issue.