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Six ways you're putting yourself at risk for id theft

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If you’re under 30, you’re less likely than your grandmother to take steps to protect yourself from falling victim to identity theft, according to statistics from the Federal Trade Commission. That group comprised 32% of identity theft complaint filings compared with 13% for people over 59.

Researchers point to reasons like laid-back attitudes toward regularly reviewing bank statements and credit reports. But, ironically, it’s younger consumers’ comfort with technology that may make them easy targets for crooks.

In a PEMCO Northwest Poll, 22% of people under 35 said they didn’t install or upgrade their personal computer’s firewall or antispyware protection (compared with 12% of older responders). People who have grown up with technology, it seems, are much less likely to perceive it as a threat or hesitate to put personal information into the virtual world.

Security experts from the Federal Trade Commission, Identity Theft 911®, and Bankrate.com urge consumers to rethink six common habits that can give identity thieves the toehold they need:

  1. Calling your bank or credit card company in public. Cell phone conversations in noisy settings (like bus stops and airports) often mean the caller has to shout to be heard. Wait until you’re home for any call that might involve dictating an account, credit card, or Social Security number.
  2. Oversharing on social networks. Even seemingly innocent information like your pet’s name can give identity thieves potential clues to your passwords. Also, make sure you review and adjust your online networks’ privacy settings, rather than just assume the default settings are right for you.
  3. Handing over your credit card number to just anybody. Especially when buying online, make sure the business has security in place to protect your personal information. Look for https in the URL and a lock icon before entering your credit card number.
  4. Recycling personal documents without shredding them. In the PEMCO Poll, younger people said they tossed without shredding 12% more often than older people. The experts at Identity Theft 911 say that dumpster-diving and mail theft are a top concern with identity fraud.
  5. Ignoring your bank statement. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, younger people take an average of 132 days to detect bank or credit account fraud compared with older consumers who average 52 days. Younger consumers are also much less likely to routinely review their credit reports.
  6. Relying solely on the Post Office to forward mail. Younger people tend to rent and move more often, leaving a trail of orphaned mail behind them. Besides notifying the Post Office of your new address, tell businesses that regularly send you billing or account information.

Visit ID Smart for more identity-theft prevention tips and to learn more about PEMCO ID Smart™, a free service that gives all PEMCO policyholders unlimited one-on-one access to an experienced specialist who can help shut down an identity thief and guide them step-by-step in cleaning up any mess left behind.

PEMCO ID Smart™ is powered by CyberScout®, the nation’s leader in identity management and fraud education.

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