Young Adults and Unique Identity Theft Issues

Young Adults and Unique Identity Theft Issues

As more people have embraced technology, more opportunities for identity theft have been created.  PC Magazine author Larry Seltzer interviewed a cyber-crimes expert and found that there are some unique new ways that people have their identities stolen.  One of the things that may come as a surprise is that misconfigured peer-to-peer apps like Limewire can share information from your “My Documents” folder.

While you may be hip to the Nigerian scams, you may not be aware of skimmers on ATMs that can read your credit cards. Seltzer explains, “These are devices which install over the reader appear to be part of the machine. When you insert your card the skimmer reads it and records the information on it. They are often used in combination with surreptitious cameras to record the keys you press for the PIN. Skimmers are especially popular on gas pump, but they are also being used on the smaller point of sale readers found in stores.”

CNN Money reported that the top consumer complaint is identity fraud.  “The Federal Trade Commission counted 250,854 complaints about identity theft in 2010, according to a report issued Tuesday. That was 19% of the 1.3 million total complaints the agency received, putting it at the top of the consumer complaint list for the 11th year in a row. The most common form of identity theft was through fraudulent government documents. Credit card fraud garnered the second highest number of identity theft complaints, followed by phone and utilities fraud.”

Many young adults are going back to school soon.  College students may feel they are invincible and not notice identity theft as quickly as they should.  They are less likely to track their bank accounts and credit card statements.  Mainstreet.com reported, “Studies have shown that it takes 18- to 24-year-old Americans twice as long to find out they’ve been the victim of I.D. fraud – which is usually too late to do anything about it.”

Wells Fargo has come up with tips for college students to safeguard their financial information.

Fraudpreventionunit.org also has listed 10 Tips for an Identity-Theft Free 2011.

College Students Beware of Financial Aid Scams

In the recent article 15 Common Financial Aid Scams to Watch Out For, the author points out that college students may be a vulnerable demographic.  So-called financial aid experts may be out to take advantage of those looking for legitimate ways to finance their education.  Watch out for some of the following wording:  Unclaimed Money, Buy Now, Application Fees, Free Seminar, and Guaranteed.  For the complete list of scams with explanations, click here

Finaid.org claims, “Every year, several hundred thousand students and parents are defrauded by scholarship scams. The victims of these scams lose more than $100 million annually.”  There is some protection against fraud.  The Scholarship Fraud Protection Act of 2000 has increased the penalties for this fraud, including a maximum fine of $500,000 and jail time. 

If you feel you have been scammed, you have recourse.  According to the Finaid.org site, “The following organizations can help you determine whether an offer is legitimate. They will tell you whether they have received any complaints about the company, or whether it’s currently under investigation. They can also provide you with additional information or assistance.

National Fraud Information Center (NFIC)
In addition to providing helpful information, the NFIC will pass your complaints along to the appropriate authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your state’s Attorney General’s Office. The NFIC also maintains a toll-free hotline at 1-800-876-7060.”

Top 10 Personal Finance Articles

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I am a contributing writer for investopedia.com.  The following is a list of my top 10 personal finance articles I wrote for that site:
•  Condo Complications: The Issues Behind Ownership  – Being a “condo person” is just one of the issues you’ll have to examine when deciding if a condo is right for you.
•  Improve Your Karma With Microlending  – Not all businesses are self-sustaining – many rely on microlending in order to survive.
•  Things To Know About The Home Modification Plan  – This program allows FHA borrowers to reduce monthly mortgage payments through negotiation with lenders.
•  How Unemployment Affects You (Even If You’re Working)  – Rebounding from a stint of unemployment can be a frustrating thing to do. These tips should soften the blow.
•  Affinity Fraud: No Safety In Numbers  – Ponzi schemes are just one example of this type of scam; learn how to avoid becoming a victim.
•  Bankruptcy Filing Changes That Could Affect You  – When the economy is down, more people file for bankruptcy. Make sure you know about the changes that have been made to this process.
•  Recognize And Avoid “Work At Home” Scams  – From pyramid schemes to envelope stuffing, there are a lot of scams masquerading as legitimate part-time work.
•  Using Age-Based Funds In Your 401(k)  – If you prefer a “hands-off” approach to saving for retirement, target-date funds may be for you.
•  Lending From A Loan Officer’s Perspective  – Learn how a loan officer thinks, so that you can get the best and safest loan.
•  Employee Benefits: How To Know What To Choose  – Starting a new job is stressful but you don’t need to sweat about setting up a benefits package.