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Teenagers, Social Networks and Stolen Identities

TARGET – AMERICAN YOUTH!!!                                                  

What Your Teenager Needs to Know 

I recently attended a Consumer Action conference and learned a great deal of information that needs to be made known to our communities here in Beaver County. It is important that we warn the next generation about the financial/informational pitfalls that are prevalent in our society and how they are targets.

Social Networks (Facebook, Twitter, Emails & Texting on Cell Phones) = Stolen Identities?

Yes, it can happen. Young people are very trusting and are prone to give out information that is exactly what credit reporting agencies ask when someone attempts to pull a free credit report. Tell your teenagers now what not to type online or say/text over the phone. Do not give out any personal information i.e. social security numbers, date of birth, middle names, local banks, address, previous streets or addresses,  school name/location, school loan info, personal loan info, mother’s maiden name, or current and previous phone numbers. This is the type of information that cyber scammers can use to breach accounts and the act is called smishing for cell phone users, similar to phishing online. Never click on a link through a text or call the number on your phone that says your bank account has been compromised through a database breech. This type of alert should only come through the mail. It is advisable to put a security freeze on your credit report when letters like this arrive. Do not rely on the institution to alert credit agencies, they are not legally obliged to do anything but notify you.

Pay Day Loans = Predatory Lending

We have covered this subject before, but we need to warn young people about it nevertheless. Many of us are experienced enough to avoid paying 50% and up for a short term loan which is why you don’t see Pay Day loan services in the suburbs very often. Their targets are the financially instable, low-income and overly trusting individuals who may need a quick loan to tide-them-over until the next paycheck. They are charged inflated interest rates for emergency funds which at the moment is a type of legalized usury. One may think that these businesses are run by the lowest type of money sharks or mafia related industries but think again; a large number of them are subsidiaries of big, national banks. No, not your local bank but the big guys who lobby congress in ever increasing waves of gimmeeism, like a selfish child. Where do they target?

Cities = college students – Is your child going to attend a college in or near a city? Tell them how to avoid these financial traps. They are targets.

Military Bases = new recruits and/or academy cadets – It is against military rules for service men and women to financially engage with predatory lenders, they will be discharged if discovered. They are targets.

Low Income Neighborhoods = poor credit individuals and families – High school graduates do not have the funds necessary to obtain a mortgage or rent in the suburbs. Neither do college graduates with large student loan debt, the unemployed or underemployed, and many minority and migrant communities. They are targets.

ON LINE = anyone – internet predatory lending is an increasing virtual presence that has become hard to regulate.

What is the solution? Some of the better ideas are to start your teenager out with a savings account at a local credit union; purchase a prepaid or secured credit card for emergencies only, (not pizza); and keep an eye on their credit reports. Pull a free credit report every four months from one of the credit reporting agencies for young adults 18 and older to make sure no one is using their credit. Show them how to do it and stress that this is personal information that should not be left lying around a dorm room or in a house shared with roommates. The website is the site to go to and you can choose from any of the three, Equifax, Experian or TransUnion or you can download a form and mail it to Annual Credit Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA  30348-5281. It takes approximately three weeks to receive a credit report in the mail.

What the future holds = Get Ready! It’s already here.

Keylogging – software that follows everything you type into your phone including passwords – usually through a free game app.

Identity Ecosystem = Government Controlled Online Security – This is a White House inspired plan by the Obama Administration that is supported by most of the U.S. Congress. Your teenager should be aware that anything that is typed or sent online will be held in cyber space and accessible for eighteen months or longer. This information can be sold to colleges, future employers, landlords, police departments and the list goes on. What they send online or over their cell phone will be a direct reflection on their character when a search is done. Make young people aware of the consequences of poor choices now.

National Identity Card – The technology is already here. This card will have all of your personal information including health history. Who will have access?

If you are concerned about privacy invasion or would just like some additional information about any of the topics covered here, you may call the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at 855-411-2372 in Washington D.C. or go online to

To learn more about the Alliance for Consumer Protection, please visit out website at

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