TRENTON—Though identity theft is on the rise for everyone, teens or college-bound students are at particular risk warns the Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey Inc. “It is today’s fastest growing crime,” says William R. Vowteras, CPIA, PIANJ president. “According to several different studies, including one by the Federal Trade Commission, 18-29 years old account for almost 30 percent of all identity theft complaints,” he continued.
“Before sending your child off to college, call your independent insurance agent,” says Vowteras. “Identity theft may be covered by insurance. Some companies include identity theft coverage as part of their homeowners insurance policy; selling it as either a stand-alone policy or as an endorsement to a homeowners or renters insurance policy. This coverage provides the customer reimbursement for the expenses associated with the identity and credit-restoration process including phone bills, lost wages, notary and certified-mailing costs, and, sometimes, attorney fees (with the prior consent of the insurer).”
PIANJ also recommends parents talk to their kids, ensuring they understand the importance of this issue. The Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit group that helps victims of identity theft, offers tips for college students:
• Keep your Social Security card and number locked in a safe place. Do not carry it with you if it’s not necessary.
• Store your laptop in a locking security box when you are not in your room and don’t carry it with you.
• If at all possible, use a credit card, not a debit card. Credit cards may be prepaid or have low limits. Debit cards are targets for identity thieves. Check your monthly statement to look for unexplained expenses.
• Never loan a credit or debit card to a friend. Co-signing for any cell phone, utility account, car loan or credit cards puts you at a major risk.
• Never loan your driver’s license or identification card to anyone.
• Check your credit report annually. Use the free credit reports available. If you have never established credit, there will be no report. If there is a report, review it and make sure none of the information is the result of fraudulent activity.
PIANJ is a trade association representing professional insurance agencies and brokerages throughout the state.
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