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Is Age More Than Just a Number?
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Jamara (She/Her)
Financial Educator
Posted November 5, 2020
Targeting based on age
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Does your age put you at greater risk of becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud? Scams can be achieved in many ways. While no one is exempt from being a potential target, it is true that there are specific scams designed to deceive a person based on what stage of life they are in.  One of the most vulnerable age groups are young people with limited credit and account history.
Why young people are vulnerable
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You may be wondering why small children and young adults are such an easy target. Why would a criminal want to steal the identity of someone who doesn’t have credit history? Having no established credit can make you a blank slate. This makes it easier for a criminal to be able to manipulate a credit report for financial gain. A study by Carnegie Mellon’s Cylab found that a child’s social security number is 51% more likely to be stolen than an adult’s for falsifying credit reports.
False identity
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Social security numbers, along with other personal identifying information, can be used to steal someone’s identity for financial gain. Synthetic credit report fraud is a scam that is currently on the rise. This type of fraud combines real and fake information to create a foundation for a credit report. A fraudster will steal your social security number, address and date of birth to be able to apply for different accounts and loans.

Usually these accounts and loans are managed responsibly for a short period of time- just long enough to create the illusion of positive credit. These loans are most likely small lines of credit, like a store credit card. Building positive credit history will allow for an easier process when applying for larger loans later, such as personal loans or credit cards with greater spending limits. Once a scammer creates these profiles, they can manage more than one fake identity at a time. For this reason, a lot of financial institutions access credit reports when opening accounts, including for minors and young adults. This helps to ensure that fraudulent activity has not taken place.
How do scammers steal an identity?
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Personal information can be stolen in a number of different ways. Fake grants and scholarship programs are a popular way of stealing information from young college students. Criminals will contact students by phone or email and attempt to collect information from students who believe they are applying for a legitimate grant in hopes of paying for school. The information gathered may then be used to commit fraud. Verify any scholarship or grant offers are legitimate by contacting the financial aid office at a school you are applying to or the school you are attending.

Sometimes the person deceiving you can be someone you know. Knowing you personally can allow for easier access to sensitive information. Social media is also very popular for younger generations. After a simple follow or accepted friend request, criminals have access to a lot of personal information. Your birth date, email, current and previous job information and even your phone number can often be found very easily on your Facebook or Instagram profiles.

It is important that you research any type of organization that is requesting sensitive information. Keep personal information safe, even from those we tend to trust and limit how much information you provide to the public on social media platforms.
In conclusion
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Yes, age is more than just a number. Age can help a criminal generalize what stage of life you may be in. This can help fraudsters determine how to approach you for financial gain. No one is exempt from possibly becoming a victim of lurking scammers. It is important that you stay informed on how fraud is achieved and how to prevent it.
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