Terry is a former medical assistant-turned-certified life coach who writes about health, wellness and the power of positive thinking.
How would you feel if you went to the grocery store and found out at the checkout line that you had no money in your bank account? Normally this is embarrassing enough, but what if you knew that you should have money in the account?
Unfortunately, chances are in this case that your identity has been stolen. According to a Washington Post story, this is exactly what happened to Ryan Thomas, an airman in the Air Force Honor Guard, after he purchased some movies online. One morning, he woke to find that his bank account, which had almost $1,000 the night before, had been drained.
The Risk to Millennials for Identity Theft
Millennials are at particularly high risk of identity theft, since they are typically slower to realize their identity has been stolen and have more personal information available on the internet. According to the US Department of Justice, about 16.6 million Americans (or about 7 percent) over the age of 16 were victims of some form of identity theft in 2012 alone. Of those, about one in 20 were victims of identity theft. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few months or even years to fully recover from identity theft, and some people spend years repairing their credit.
Millennials say that they value their privacy, with more than 70 percent saying that no one should be able to access their personal information on internet behavior. However, millennials are constantly sharing their personal information with social media websites like Facebook and other third-party companies that offer promotions or coupons for sharing information with them. While many of these companies are reputable, some too are dishonest or negligent, and might willfully or accidentally share personal information with groups or individuals whose intention is to steal identities for financial gain.
Problems Associated with Identity Theft
One of the biggest issues that come with having your identity stolen is the severe damage it can cause to your credit. According to a report from Credit.com, identity theft can destroy your credit for years to come, even if you catch it relatively quickly. Bad credit leads to a number of other problems, including difficulty qualifying for a mortgage or new car, applying to high-rewards and low-interest credit cards, and in some cases can even negatively affect your ability to get a job. These problems can sometimes lead to a never-ending spiral that makes your life far more difficult that it needs to be. For this reason, it is imperative that you do everything possible to protect your identity and credit from those who set out to do harm.
How to Protect your Identity
Fortunately, there are a number of easy ways to protect your credit. The first is to use common sense when sharing your personal information. Don’t share personal information unless it is with a verified reputable company and you know exactly how they will use it. BullGuard Identity Protection can be a helpful tool to protect your identity.
You can also collect some helpful tips on avoiding identity theft by following companies such as Lifelock on Twitter. They include free information on how to monitor your identity, track your credit score, and protect your credit.
By being more aware on the Internet, and using outside resources for help, protecting your identity becomes much more manageable for Millennials and individuals alike.
Article by Terry Royal