5 things you need to know about identity theft
(CBS News) Identity theft has become the top consumer complaint in the U.S., with about 10 million victims each year.
So what should you know to protect yourself? CBS News business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis shared the five things you need to know about identity theft on "CBS This Morning."
1. Your kids are at risk
According to the Federal Trade Commission, about eight percent of people under the age of 19 will have their identity stolen. But they warn that a lot of these are underreported, primarily because most parents won't know there kids have had their identities stolen until they're in their late teens and getting ready to apply for college loans or for a credit card. The best way to fight this is to get a credit report for your children. You get one free report per year so check that your child does not have a credit history - they shouldn't. You can also check with the Social Security Administration to make sure no one is trying to use their number to get a job.
2. Keep an eye on government benefits
According to the FTC the biggest area of identity theft happened with benefits from the government. Identity theft for tax returns was a big one - people use your Social Security number to file your taxes in the hope that they can pocket your return. There are also cases of people trying to steal Social Security benefits, Medicaid benefits, or any type of benefit that comes from the government, so you want to monitor those closely.
3. Watch your medical records
One area of ID theft that is growing quickly is medical identity theft. People will take your Social Security number, so they can use your insurance. This is a problem for multiple reasons. Not only could you be stuck with a bill, but whatever treatment someone gets using your identity becomes part of your medical record. So if you show up at the emergency room, they could think you're on a medicine that you're not and it could interfere with how you're treated. The best way to catch this is to read your explanation of benefits.
4. Be less social on social media
The age group with the most ID theft is people between 20 and 39. Nearly half of identity theft occurs in those age groups. Those age groups are also the most active on social media websites. And that could put you more at risk. You may think posting your birthday or where you went to college is harmless, but it could be just the amount of added personal information an ID thief needs to pretend to be you.
5. If you live in Florida, watch out
Florida is the number one state for identity theft. Three of the top 10 metropolitan areas for identity theft are in that state. Georgia is number two on that list and has a few states. Also on the list of top 10? California, Arizona, Texas, New York, Nevada, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware. In general, you're more at risk in major metropolitan areas.
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