Identity theft is a significant concern for everyone, but there are some people who are more susceptible to it for a variety of reasons. In general, those who have a larger public exposure than average will be targeted more often by identity thieves than those who leave behind a very small public footprint. There are also specific actions that may make it more likely someone’s identity will be stolen. Identity thieves will often target demographics not likely to notice issues with their credit reports. Here are three vulnerable groups.
Politicians, CEOs and CIOs
Politicians and high-level professionals may not realize their job descriptions often require a large amount of credit exposure. Most politicians, CEOs and similar executives will have their names, addresses and other identifying information published in a myriad of sources. This makes them an easy target for identity thieves.
Earlier this year, the social security numbers of several American politicians and celebrities were posted online, including a police chief and the attorney general. To further complicate the issue, many high-powered politicians and executives don’t do their own accounting. This means new accounts and suspicious charges can go unnoticed for months, or even years. Those who have their personal information available to the public need to be especially vigilant about checking their credit reports, bank statements and credit card statements.
Online Businesses and Small Businesses
Those who conduct a lot of business online will often find themselves providing a great deal of their personal information, such as tax ID numbers, to third parties. This is usually unavoidable, but it does come with some risks. The online business owner has no way of controlling whether these third parties are reputable, or whether they may experience a data breach. They also have no guarantee they will be notified if a third party does experience a data breach.
Online business owners, small business owners and entrepreneurs need to be extremely cautious about the possibility of identity theft and need to be aware of how the Internet can facilitate this type of theft. Social media can also be used to assume a business’s identity.
College students are one of the demographics most vulnerable to identity theft because they are sent a multitude of new credit applications every week. They also move a lot, which means their mail is sometimes misdirected. Because they don’t often think to check their credit reports, they won’t be able to identify any suspicious activity. It is very important for college students to learn about the risk of identity theft and how to best protect themselves from it.
Those who have determined they are likely a high-risk individual may want to consider investing in a service such as LifeLock. These services lock down an individual’s identity so no one can open new lines of credit in their names without first verifying themselves. These services also come with many features to help monitor credit reports and identify suspicious activity.
Do you know someone who has been a victim of identity theft? Share your thoughts in the comments.
[author] Fred Wong is a technology analyst and freelance writer originally from Washington. [/author]