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During childhood, most children are completely unaware of their financial records and who may be taking advantage of them – as are their older family members. Identity theft among youths and college students has grown into a serious problem over recent years.
This leads to a situation where a startling number of children are growing up and heading off to college, only to find out that their personal information has been misused for years. The harm that long-term, unchecked ID theft can do is significant, resulting in seriously damaged credit scores and a higher level of risk for future theft incidents.
The Federal Trade Commission calculated that there were about 490,000 identity theft complaints filed in 2015, and households headed by individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 were the most likely to be affected. In addition, the year before, Javelin Strategy and Research found in its report that 22 percent of college students only discovered that their identities had been stolen after being denied credit or contacted by a debt collector.
More ID protection education
The problem is that even though young people face higher levels of risk, they are also far less prepared to protect themselves. Though members of this generation spend hours each day online, both on their home computers and, increasingly, on mobile devices, many have not taken the steps necessary to protect their browsing sessions.
About 92 percent of teens go online daily, according to the Pew Research Center. However, new research from Intel Security has found that only half of all college students have the security software they need installed on their devices. Though young people are far more likely to be proficient with technology than their parents, they do not appear to be taking the right skills with them to college.
This is especially true when it comes to mobile devices. While PC users are generally used to the fact that these machines need competent antivirus and other security software installed, consumers have been trained to assume that their smartphones and tablets are good to go out of the box. But this isn’t true for every device. In a recent study, McAfee Labs found that mobile malware levels have grown by 150 percent year over year. Mobile users who happen to be logged into public Wi-Fi on college campuses or at nearby coffee shops may be opening themselves up to serious viruses.
It’s clear that young people and their families need much more education when it comes to threats to their identities. The increased risk begins during youth and continues all throughout college. But families also need better options to help protect themselves. Get protected today with Identity Guard. By leveraging IBM Watson techonology, Identity Guard is bringing state-of-the-art identity theft protection straight to you.