Millions of teenagers are tossing their school books and celebrating the long awaited summer break. Before your kids run out the door, share a couple tips on how to protect their adventures from identity theft.
Tip #1: Protect Your Debit/Credit Card
With all the extra daylight and warm summer nights, your teenagers will have no trouble filling the time with activities that most likely require money. Maybe it’s going to the movies or buying a new swimsuit and snacks for hanging by the pool. Suggest trying to use cash versus an ATM card, which has a higher likelihood of getting copied by nearby fraudsters.
If they are using a debit card, remind them to cover their hand when punching in the pin number and to be aware of anyone who might be looking over their shoulder to record their information. Get them in the habit of checking with debit and credit card statements to ensure that all transactions computed correctly (e.g. they didn’t get charged twice for the same purchase), and look for suspicious transactions that could mean identity theft, like purchases they didn’t make. And, as always, make sure that if they go online to check their accounts, they’re using a secured network versus a shared network (think WiFi) that’s more susceptible to hackers.
Tip #2: Be Mindful of Where You Put Your Wallet/Purse
One in five victims think their identity was stolen because of a lost wallet or checkbook, according to the U.S. Department of Justice,¹ so remind your teenagers to not leave bags unattended. Designate a safe place to keep money where it won’t accidentally fall out of a pocket or shopping bag; for example, if your daughter and her friends go to the beach or the mall, suggest they take bags that can be zippered shut, which makes it harder for someone to walk by, reach in, and take their wallets.
Places like the community pool or an amusement park will often have lockers for rent. While your teenager might see it as a hassle and want to save the money for another soda, remind him that spending a couple bucks to lock up valuables is a small price to pay compared to that of a victim. On average, children who are victims of identity theft wind up with $12,779 in fraudulent debt.²
Tip #3: Don’t be Afraid to Reach Out
If a wallet is stolen, tell them to notify the proper authorities immediately. The sooner they reach out, the sooner they can stop a thief from doing damage. Have them (1) retrace their steps and check the surrounding area for their lost items, (2) notify the manager/owner of the business and ask if they have a lost-and-found, and (3) talk with a Fraud Resolution Specialist (FRS). Your FRS can guide you through notifying local police, calling banks to freeze or close accounts, and more.
Many parents may not realize that identity theft is an issue for their kids because identity theft wasn’t really an issue when they themselves were teenagers, but today it’s a real risk. Each year, over 140,000 identity theft cases involve children.³ Make sure your kids understand the dangers and know how to protect themselves.
Call today to talk with a Fraud Resolution Specialist and get more tips on how to protect your family.
¹ Wicker, Alden. “7 Things Not to do with Your Wallet.” forbes.com. Forbes, 5 Apr. 2013. Web. 16 May 2016.
² “Recent Identity Theft Statistics.” Identity Theft Journal. N.d. Web. 16 May 2016.
³ Fuscaldo, Donna. “5 Groups at Greater Risk of Identity Theft.” bankrate.com. N.d. Web. 29 May 2015.
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