Sunday, February 12, 2006

Parents: Children Are Easy Targets for Identity Thieves!

The following is courtesy of:

Whether cildren are online or offline at the time of an identity theft, it does not matter to the identity thieves. They know that children are easy "marks" and consequently are increasingly targeting them. According the Federal Trade Commission, complaints about identity theft involving youngsters under 18 have nearly doubled since 2003, up from 6,512 to more than 11,600 last year.

While they make up a small percentage -- about 5 percent -- of the total ID theft complaints, the FTC's Jay Miller says young people are attractive to cons because they may not be as savvy about safeguarding personal information and could easily fall prey while surfing the Internet.

"Identity thieves don't see age as a hurdle," said Miller, who works with law enforcement to combat identity theft. "All they want is as much information about a person as they can get regardless of age. And believe me, they will find a way to use it."

And they have, says Sue Houk of the San Diego-based Identity Theft Resource Center. Houk's friend was stunned to learn that someone had fraudulently opened a bank account in her 12-year-old daughter's name. The con artist then opened about a half dozen credit card accounts, declared bankruptcy, had it written off and left the youngster with a mess of legal hassles.

"It's an easy thing to do. Once they get a valid Social Security number, they just go to town," said Houk, who is the Acting Chief Executive of the Center, a private organization that distributes information about identity theft.

The most victimized age group for identity theft was the 18-to-29 category. The FTC said that category registered 29 percent of the complaints, or more than 70,200. According to the FTC's annual report on consumer fraud complaints identity theft again topped the list for the sixth consecutive year. The number of complaints filed with the FTC jumped from 246,847 in 2004 to more than 255,500 last year.

Parents, I caution you: Keep a closer eye on your children's online and offline activities and events. The identity thieves are!

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Behavior Management Expert and Maximizing Your Potential Mentor™ Etienne A. Gibbs is a life-observing author, engaging talk show host, humorous speaker, and successful trainer who teaches small business owners, managers, and employees how to speak, think, and perform in ways that will help them shine. In the end, they maximize their critical thinking, speaking, and management skills.

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