Identity theft is every adults' nightmare.  Identity theft is when a person steals someone else's personal information, such  as credit card, bank account or Social Security numbers, to purchase goods and  services.  With technology, it is easier than ever to have your identity stolen .Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the U.S., with over nine million victims each year.

    You may not have thought about protecting your teenager's identity, but they are easy targets.  One study reports that the age group most affected with teen identity theft is  between 10 and 16.  Teenagers and young adults are more vulnerable to identity theft because they don't have a credit file that can be monitored.  Their clean credit record is what attracts identity thieves.  Thieves can rack up charges on a clean record for years.  Most teens discover they have fallen victim to identity theft when they apply  for a driver's license and are denied because one has already been issued under  their Social Security number.

      • They go through your trash looking for unshredded papers and records.
      • They steal your mail, wallet or purse.
      • They listen in on conversations.
      • They trick you or your teen into giving them personal information, either over the phone or by email.
      • They steal information from a loan or credit card application you or your child may have filled out or from files at a hospital, bank, school or business that you deal with. Thieves may obtain these records from trash dumpsters outside such companies.
      • They get it from your computer, especially those without firewalls.
      • It can be a friend or relative who has access to you or your teen's information.
    • Educate your teen on safe Internet practices and how to protect themselves online while at school and at home.
    • Invest in a paper shredder at home to destroy personal information, including mail with birthdays, social security numbers, and banking information.
    • Instruct your teen to only disclose personal information to individuals they know and reputable companies when making purchase, especially online purchases.
    • Encourage your teen to only approve friend requests from those they know.  Instruct your teen to ignore requests from people they do not know well or at all, as they could be predators looking for information to steal their identity.
    • Advise your teen to never carry his/her social security card in his/her wallet or purse.  They will not need this card on a day to day basis, so it needs to be kept in a safe place (lock box) at home.
    • You can also use an identity theft protection company, such as Identity Hawk. These companies guarantee to stop fraud before it happens.
    It can take years to clean up the mess once your teenager's identity is stolen, so start today teaching your teenager how to protect his/her identity by keeping his/her personal information private.