Identity Theft & Millennials
Millennials are the most tech-and-internet-savvy generation but are most likely to become victims of identity theft. Millennials generally having a clean credit history that makes them lucrative targets for an identity thief. Millennials are also:
- Highly likely to store bank account information on their phones.
- Easily accepting of sharing personal information on social media
- Most likely to fall for job scams
- Unlikely to use identity monitoring services that uncover potential fraud and stop it before it’s too late
There are many factors that put millennials at a greater risk of identity theft, but there are also things they can do to protect themselves. Here are the top ways millennials get their identities stolen:
There has been a huge increase in mobile security threats over the past few years. 86% of millennials say they store their bank account information on their phones, but only 33% of them of use a passcode on their devices. This leaves their banking information at risk if their phone is hacked, phished or stolen. Set a password on your phone to create a barrier for anyone trying to access the information.
All a thief really needs to steal your identity are some key pieces of your personal information. If they can determine your birthday, your mother’s maiden name, and/or where you grew up from Facebook, they may be able to hack into your bank account. Or they can string that information together with information gathered elsewhere to do something worse, like apply for a loan or credit card in your name. Think twice before you share all the things. Sensitive personal information like your Social Security number, address, full birth date and bank account number should never be shared. Also consider adjusting your privacy settings so that what you share is only visible to your real friends and family.
Has one of your friends ever popped up on Facebook Messenger, wanting to reconnect and eventually promising you wealth by clicking through to a website? If they are trying to persuade you to click a link or download a program, your “friend” has likely been hacked and the hacker wants to get malware on your computer. From there your Facebook account and computer can be partially controlled by hackers who may send spam to other people on your friends list and elicit personal information from both you and them. Don’t take a friend’s profile picture at face value. They may have been hacked or are under the influence of a hacker. And if someone asks you to transfer money over a social network, don’t do it!
Target, Google, Verizon, Chipotle and Xbox have two major things in common: they’re brands that millennials use and enjoy, and they’ve all had major data breaches in the past few years. A data breach happens when a cybercriminal steals sensitive information by hacking into a company’s network. They can sell that information on the dark web and it’s used for identity theft. Data breaches like these are, unfortunately, not uncommon—and have put the personal information of billions of Americans at risk. Preventing a data breach is out of your hands. When you swipe your card at a store or make a purchase online, you’re trusting that company to keep your information safe. The best thing you can do is have a reliable identity theft protection service in place, so that if your information does get compromised, you have a team working for you to stop a full-blown identity theft before it gets that far. Unfortunately, Millennials are less likely to be enrolled in ID theft protection services.
75% of baby boomers shred sensitive documents before throwing them out, compared to only 53% of millennials. Be aware that identity thieves hunt for credit card bills, bank statements, medical bills, tax information, personal checks, and more right in your own mailbox. They may also dig through your trash looking for personal information they can use to steal your identity. Ask a friend to collect your mail while you’re out of town, and consider investing in a paper shredder before you toss out sensitive documents.
Did you know that there are a whopping 60 to 70 jobs scams posted for every one legitimate posting? Hackers are now using job postings as a front for phishing scams, money movement, envelope stuffing scams, identity theft and more. Never give out sensitive information during an application process. For example, a potential employer should not ask you for your Social Security Number until you are hired. And use caution when clicking through to websites and links you are sent. If something feels pushy, too easy, or “off,” it may very well be a scam.
Millennials reported higher rates of being scammed than seniors. Of millennial respondents aged 20-29, 20 percent have been scammed. Of senior respondents aged 60-69, only 13 percent have been scammed.
Millennials are 25 percent more likely to report that they have lost money to fraud than consumers aged 40 and over, according to a new Federal Trade Commission analysis of consumer complaint data.
Hackers target younger generations because they are online so much—55% of GenZers can’t go more than five hours without Internet access. Millennials and Gen Zers as a whole post personal information online and are more willing to share their personal data in return for personalized experiences.