Thursday, February 26, 2015 10:10 am, Posted by Absolute Destruction
Out of all age groups, did you know that the group most vulnerable to identity theft was youth? According to one study, young people under the age of eighteen are more than twice as likely to have their identities stolen than their parents. Whether they’re in high school or post-secondary, students are often easy victims of counterfeit and theft due to a host of factors.
First, their clean records and credit ratings mean that they’re effectively blank slates for thieves to make major purchases. Second, their sheer lack of experience means they are more likely to give their social insurance number to people online, in person, and over the phone for services, warranties, and other sorts of exchanges where no SIN needs to be given. In general, due to their turbulent life styles (frequent changes of address, high job application turnover rate, school and financial aid applications, etc.), they’re simply giving out their information more often than adults, which increases their chance of becoming victims with every interaction.
Younger people may be more likely seduced by convincing email scams and phishing techniques. They also may not be used to receiving high volume of mail in their name, which may mean they’re not accustomed to properly shredding credit card offers and other messages from their bank—especially if they’ve never been told to shred and thoroughly eliminate confidential paperwork.
Another major reason why youth are especially vulnerable is the way social media encourages sharing — and over-sharing. As Facebook privacy settings constantly change, details once thought private become suddenly public domain. The more that these social media hubs encourage providing complete composites of their users—place and date of birth, maiden names, phone numbers, email and home addresses, places of work and study, and so forth—the more that thieves might fill in the blanks on a young person’s data. Quizzes, questionnaires, and apps constantly ask users for complete access to their accounts: who’s to say which one is reliable, and which one is designed by con artists?
The Government of Canada has a page on its online ‘Services for Youth’ sector devoted to identity theft and how young people can protect themselves. It reminds them how they have a right to having their personal information kept confidential, that they should be extremely careful with who they give out such information, to look for the telltale encryption padlock symbol in the corner of a screen when giving out details online, and to check their bank account records frequently for any unusual activity.
You can help the young person in your life by educating them on the importance of keeping their personal information safe and secure, and by disposing of any confidential material properly. If you already use our excellent residential service for document destruction, be sure to properly show your kids how protecting themselves from attack is the smart, mature thing to do, and can help them keep a clean credit record for years to come.
Contact us today to schedule a one-time or regularly scheduled at-home service.