Protecting Your Identity at Every Stage of Life

22 February 2016

As a child, your biggest concerns might have been deciding whether to play on the swings or the slide or what to do with the caterpillar you just captured. As a teen, schoolwork and social plans might demand more of your attention. As an adult your priorities shift once again, and planning for your upcoming wedding or for the newest addition to your family may take up your free time.

Just as our priorities and concerns change along with our age, so too does the threat of identity theft.

At each stage of our lives, fraudsters target our personal information in different ways. Understanding these nuances is key to protecting your identity.

Children

Although parents often consider taking measures to protect themselves from identity theft, they rarely consider the same levels of protection for their children. As recently as last year, however, hackers gained access to customer information stored in a toy company’s database, putting millions of Canadian children at risk of ID theft. Because their credit is likely to be completely clear, plus the fact that no one typically checks it until the kids are old enough to apply for car or student loans of their own, children are in fact the ideal victims for ID theft. Sometimes, they even have their identities stolen by family members or close friends hoping to take advantage of their clean credit history.

Adults

As an adult, you experience a number of major life events, everything from dating, to buying a house, and even getting married or divorced. Although identity theft protection is likely the last thing on your mind during those important moments, they could be when you need it most. Because of the massive amounts of paperwork and documentation trading hands during these periods of change, your risk of identity theft increases.

For example, hospital trips related to pregnancy and giving birth make mothers 2.7 times more susceptible to identity theft and beginning or ending a marriage increases risk by more than three times. What’s more, changing jobs tends to boost the chances of ID theft by 50 percent, while buying or selling a house can increase your risk by a factor of 400.

Seniors

According to Canada.ca, fraud is the number one crime committed against elderly Canadians. Specifically, fraudsters tend to scam seniors via the phone or even with door-to-door visits. One common attempt is actually nicknamed “the grandparent scam” because it is almost always targeted at older Canadians. In this scam, fraudsters call senior citizens and pretend to be their grandchildren, claiming to be in trouble and requesting cash to help them out. During the call, fraudsters try to gather personal information about their victims, eventually attempting to steal their financial information over the phone.

Older Canadians should also stay on the lookout for fraudsters approaching them at their homes in person. In another scam that plays on targets’ emotions, fraudsters may pose as collectors for a charity, when in fact they are looking to collect financial data or cash for their own use. These scams can be particularly difficult to identify because fraudsters often use logos and language that looks very similar to those used by legitimate charities, even though they are not connected with those groups at all.

If you’re worried about the state of your identity, you can invest in a credit monitoring service that can alert you to certain activity that may indicate fraud. Having this resource can give you much-needed peace of mind at every stage of your life.

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