Criminals have a new favorite target when it comes to identity theft: People ages 18-24.
The “core millennial” group is at the greatest risk because it takes them longer to figure out that they have been defrauded, so their information is compromised for a longer period of time. This according to a recent study by the Javelin Strategy & Research, a California-based company that looked at where identity theft threats are coming from and what effects they are having on consumers. Millennials, according to the head of the study, do not protect enough or detect enough.
But age was not a factor when Scott Almhjell became a victim. The father of three found out someone stole his identity when his phone rang. “I got a call from Home Depot saying they needed to talk to me about my account but I didn’t have an account.”
Not once, but twice someone got enough of his information to open credit cards in his name and charge up nearly $10,000.
Almhjell is just one of the hundreds of thousands of people who become victims of identity theft in the United States every year. A just-released Federal Trade Commission report shows Arizona ranks second in the nation behind Florida in identity theft. That is due to our proximity to the border, the high number of methamphetamine users and Arizona's population of seniors who are more vulnerable.
Identity theft is not a new problem in our state, but there is a new twist to this story. As a growing number of people engage in social media, there are new ways for criminals to get your information. “If I can hack into your Facebook or Twitter account” says Todd Davis, CEO of Lifelock, “the probablility that you use that same password on your bank account, online banking, or shopping transactions is probably pretty high.”
Davis says the only real way to protect yourself is to make it difficult for people to get your information. “The criminals, if they were willing to work hard, they’d be productive members of society,” he tells 3 On Your Side. “The reality is, as long as you make it hard, you won’t be the next victim.”
1. opt out of unsolicited credit card offers
2. check your statements as soon as you receive them
3. beware of unsolicited emails asking for your sensitive information
4. use anti-virus and anti-spyware software
5. order all three free credit reports
Also experts from Data Doctors www.datadoctors.com tell 3 On Your Side you should routinely change your passwords, especially if you do on-line banking.