The elderly, college students – and believe it or not – children are the three main groups that stand out among victims of identity theft.
In fact, identity theft victims as young as five months have been reported. Because a child’s identity is less likely to be monitored according to The Bureau of Justice, children are 50 times more likely to be victims than adults.
A higher level of education, as well as higher income, both put you at more risk for identity theft. For households with incomes of $50,000 or higher, the identity theft risk increases exponentially compared with households with lesser incomes.
Unfortunately, where you live can influence identity theft and, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, residents in Illinois are among the top 10 areas at risk for identity theft.
So how do you protect yourself and your family?
Be careful about sharing your private information online. It’s probably not the best idea to share your address on Facebook, for example. Or provide your social security number in exchange for a free gift. These actions increase the likelihood of it becoming accessible to identity thieves.
Identity thieves will prey on those who do not use complex passwords and change them often. My advice is to use a secure password generator. Here is an example of a password created by the above and how you might remember it: “C4Fc7(Xa>z?m5B\L” COFFEE 4 FRUIT coffee 7 ( XBOX apple > zip? music 5 BESTBUY \ LAPTOP. You can also use a spreadsheet or password organizer to keep track of passwords.
It’s important to remember that identity theft happens offline too. A red flag should go up when telemarketers ask for personal information. Always lock your car and if you’re on vacation make sure you have a friend or family member collect your mail.
If you have a smartphone protect that too. Today, we are able to do so much more on the go through our smartphones from online banking to shopping. Make sure to only use apps that use industry-grade encryption methods, and be sure to password-protect your phone at all times.
At Warren-Boynton State Bank we take our customers' safety extremely seriously. We have friendly staff that can further assist you or answer any of your questions at our branches in New Berlin, Springfield, Palmyra, and Modesto.