18- to 24-year-olds most at risk for ID theft, survey finds

18- to 24-year-olds most at risk for ID theft, survey finds

By Allison Klein Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, March 17, 2010; B01

Ryan Thomas, an airman in the Air Force Honor Guard, bought some DVDs on the Internet using his debit card. It was a $20 payment made from his account, which had about $900.

But the following day, his account balance was zero.

Someone had stolen his account information and bought computer games and other items.

"I didn't know better about securing your information on the computer," said Thomas, 21, who lives in Southeast Washington and flies planes over Arlington National Cemetery during funerals.

After the 2007 incident, Thomas took a class about how to protect information in cyberspace. But last month, he was hit again, this time by someone who targeted his account from Malaysia.

Similar identity-theft cases are rising sharply across the country, as young people -- sometimes cavalier with their personal information

-- are hit the hardest, according to a survey released last month.

Identity fraud can include stealing a credit card number or opening a bank account in someone else's name. Thieves generally cross state lines in the commission of their crimes and are often linked to rings overseas in places such as Russia and Spain.

The "core millennial" group, identified as people ages 18 to 24, is at the greatest risk because it takes them longer to figure out that they have been defrauded -- meaning their information is compromised for a longer period, according to the survey, which is a snapshot of the identity fraud landscape from last year.


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