By Miriam Aliberti —
Kayla’s identity was stolen when she was five years old. She didn’t find out until twelve years later when she applied for a college loan and was told she had a very poor credit rating. This was a surprise since she had never borrowed money before.
What is Identity Theft?
It’s when someone uses your name, social security number, or driver’s license without your permission to commit a crime. They might take out a loan or open a credit card in your name and use the money to buy some new clothes or get their nails done, or worse. Since they are using your name, they don’t feel responsible to pay back the loan. Identity theft can make it difficult to get a cell phone, go to college, borrow money, or get insurance. It can take a very long time to repair the damage caused by identity theft.
Why would someone want to steal my Identity? It’s easier for thieves to steal an identity from kids under the age of 18. A study by Carnegie Mellon proved that kids and teens are more likely to be victims of identity theft. That’s because they have clean credit and unused social security numbers. It can take years before anyone notices a problem.
How do people steal an identity?
Thieves can gather information about you and your identity from lots of places. They can dig through the garbage, look at social media for stuff you’ve posted, hack computer databases, send fake e-mails with a request, or even get information from a lost phone.
What can I do to prevent someone from stealing my Identity?
- Don’t give anyone your information without being 100 percent sure who they are and why they need it.
- Don’t share your information online. Thieves can dig through places like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to get your phone number, address or even your pet’s name, which lots of teens use in their passwords. Be aware if you are on public Wi-Fi. Hackers can easily find information that you share online.
- Don’t share your credit card or bank information online or through a text message. It might seem secure, but it’s not. If you lose your phone, the info is out there.
- Try not to use the same password for everything and change your password once in awhile to make it more difficult for thieves to gain access to your personal information.