Millions of teenagers are tossing their school books and celebrating the long-awaited summer break. Before your kids run out the door, consider sharing a couple of tips on how they might 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 the pool. Consider suggesting that they use cash instead of an ATM card that could be copied by nearby fraudsters.
If they use a debit card, remind them to cover their hand when punching in the pin number and to be aware of anyone looking over their shoulder to record their information. Get them in the habit of checking with debit and credit card statements to ensure that transactions were 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. If they go online to check their accounts, have them check if they’re using a secured network versus a shared network (think WiFi at a local shop) 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 not to leave bags unattended. Designate a safe place to keep money where it’s less likely to fall out of a pocket or shopping bag accidentally. For example, bags that can be zippered shut make it harder for someone to walk by, reach in, and take the wallet.
Places like the community pool or an amusement park often have lockers for rent. While your teenager might see it as a hassle and want to save money for another soda, remind them that spending a couple of bucks to lock up valuables may be 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, notify the proper authorities immediately. The sooner they reach out, the sooner they might 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). An 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 it wasn’t really an issue when they 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 potential dangers and know how they can protect themselves.
Call today to talk with a Fraud Resolution Specialist and get more tips on how you might protect your family.
This content is for informational purposes only and does not guarantee eligibility for the program or its services. My Secure Advantage, Inc. or any of its representatives do not endorse any of the websites or company names listed here. The information presented is not to be a substitute for seeking advice specific to your situation from a legal or financial professional. If legal or financial advice is required, contact an attorney or financial advisor.
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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