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ID theft's most common victims

Clark Behind The Headlines

From HLN's Money Expert Clark Howard

I’ve got a special warning for you.  There was a survey by Javelin Strategy and Research that found the likeliest victims of identity theft are not at all the population group that I expected.

I had always thought identity thieves would specifically target people who were mid-career, who were at their highest earnings point. I could not have been further from the truth.

According to the survey, the number one target for identity theft is people ages 18-24. People in that age range are so digitally oriented. They put the details of their life out on the Web repeatedly, without any real safeguards. And because people in that age group tend to move a lot, tend to be in different career and education settings, they lose track of the fact that somebody may have seized their identity.

Listen to this number: it takes people between 18 and 24 almost three times longer to figure out they’ve been a victim of identity theft than any other age group. And we’re not talking about small potatoes. Last year in the United States there were over 11 million people who were identity fraud victims.

Now there are a lot of ways identity thieves do their thing, but the big one is still the key logging. That’s where a virus is downloaded through an email, or if you mistype an Internet address and go to the wrong site. Then the criminals download a program onto your computer that captures your keystrokes. And then, when you do online banking, they capture your user name and password and run off with the money.

Now this is one of those “hear me now or believe me later” things. If you are someone who is in that age group that I just mentioned, you’ve got a bulls-eye on your back and the identity thieves know that you’re easy pickings. So keep yourself from being easy pickings.

Be careful how much information you post about yourself on social networking sites. That’s number one. Number two, if you do online banking, monitor your accounts more than it seems people are doing. Balance your checkbook once a month.  I know that sounds like a crazy idea. But do you know that after 60 days have passed, if a thief has stolen money from you, you’ve forever lost the rights to that money under banking laws?

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