It's almost that time of year again: spring break.
But while young adults head out to soak up the sun and fun, they tend to travel with little or no supervision over their financial accounts and identities -- and that can spell bad news. A recent Javelin Research release, the 2011 Identity Fraud Survey Report, found that adults between ages 18 and 24 are especially susceptible to identity theft. Those in that age group might not notice things such as a missing credit card, lost driver's license or hijacked Social Security number for about 122 days, which is almost twice the average for all adults, 69 days.
These pieces of identity are often used to hack financial accounts online -- and young adults may not realize it until well after the vacation is over.
"Travelers Insurance claims data from 2010 also showed that 75 percent of all identity-fraud claims were for tangible theft of wallets, purses and stolen personal information," says Joe Reynolds, identify fraud product manager at Travelers Insurance. "Since college age kids are constantly moving from work to classes to activities and entertainment, they really need to protect their personal belongings that contain their personal information."
He recommends teaching your kids about the causes and financial consequences of identity theft once they have a part-time job and driver's license. This is usually the same time they're sharing personal and financial information with a bank and an employer.
The Federal Trade Commission's identity theft website offers some specific identity theft "don'ts" applicable to spring breakers.
- Don't carry your Social Security card.
- Don't hold receipts, bills and bank statements in your purse or backpack.
- Don't respond to phishing, smishing or vishing. These are email, text message and voice mail attempts to trick you into giving up your account numbers and Social Security number. Always contact the financial institution directly, using the information on your card or their website.
- Don't give or lend your driver's license to anyone.
My 18-year-old daughter lent her driver's license to a friend, so that forced me to have the talk with her. Have you had this talk with your teens yet?