You’ve probably read or heard about identity theft, which occurs when someone has enough personal information about another person to be able to obtain a loan or credit card in the other person’s name and use the money for things that will never be paid for or withdraw money from their bank account. Even though teenagers like you may be too young to have accounts or a credit card, you can still targeted for identity theft. Criminals can use your information to open accounts and credit cards or access your accounts at your bank.
Some simple tips you can follow to help protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft:
- Protect your personal information such as name, address, Social Security Number. Drivers License number, bank account information and mother’s maiden name. Only give out this information if you know how it will be used or shared and you’ve initiated the contact.
- Shred or tear up statements, checks, credit card solicitations, charge receipts, expired cards and documents containing personal information.
- Never share your User ID, password, card and PIN numbers with friends or strangers. Use caution about providing these to persons/entities over the Internet or phone.
- Install and update anti-virus anti-spyware software regularly. Make sure your computer is updated with the most recent patches and security updates.
- Do not respond to e-mails, pop-up windows or phone calls asking you to provide, verify or update personal information such as password, PIN, Social Security Number, etc., even if they appear to be from a reputable source. These are often part of “phishing” scams, in which criminals use ‘fake’ Web sites and e-mails to “fish” for personal information.
- Remember, Banks and/or other financial institutions will never send an e-mail or call you requesting that you provide, verify or update your personal information via e-mail, pop-up windows or phone calls.
Learn more about protecting yourself from identity theft, phishing and other scams, and other types of fraud.