Sunday, December 21, 2008

Students - Credit reports and ID theft - What is your status?

One of the concerns discussed during the workshops and with my own young adult/child is ID theft and credit reports. Who encourages our young adults and their parents to request a free credit report? The students and the parents ask, "Why should they request a credit report when/if they don't have credit?" The question answers itself.

We don't know what we don't know. Some argue ignorance is today's society...ignorance is not bliss when it comes to identity theft and online scams. Identity theft and hosed up credit can keep you from offers for jobs, scholarships, college applications and our young adults need to be proactive in being vigilant, and using independent learning opportunities.

Everyone needs to be proactive in maintaining our individual credit rating and protecting our identity. Credit reports factor into decisions made about insurance, renting an apartment, buying a car or home, getting a job, maintaining a job which requires security clearance/background checks.

Some will argue that it is best to keep our students off line to protect them from ID theft. This is just wrong...identity theft occurred long before people accessed the Internet. The information to the public wasn't as accessible as it is today and many of us grew up with parents who did not know about ID theft or credit report issues.

Many people check their credit report on an annual basis and I try to encourage our students to do the same. They are entitled and they need to understand what is or is not reported on their individual credit report.

Identity theft can occur to anyone...being proactive about who is checking your credit and what is listed on your individual credit report is a personal responsibility.

When an individual discovers he or she has become a victim of identity theft by a family member, it can be devastating. It also happens when students share names of family members who have passed and data is transferred from one credit report to another by the humans doing the data transfers. The responsibility to correct the credit report is on the individual. This can be tough for a young adult who wants to be successful in the world.

So who is teaching our young adults to become proactive in applying for their personal credit reports?

Anyone can start through the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). As stated on the Consumer page, "This section of the FTC website offers practical information on a variety of consumer topics. The information here can help you avoid rip-offs and exercise your consumer rights. So read up! Education is the first line of defense against fraud and deception; it can help you make well-informed decisions before you spend your money".

Games - You can play the games from the site or grab the code and add it to your own site. Games include 7 Practices for Safer Computing, Identity Theft, Internet Auctions, Laptop Security, P2P File-Sharing, Phishing, Online Investing, Online Shopping, Social Networking, Spam Scams, Spyware, Wireless Security.

News - As the official news bureau for the FTC, our primary objective is to help American consumers understand what the FTC is, what it does, and the value the FTC adds to their lives. We work with all of the FTC's Bureaus and Offices to identify news opportunities and implement effective media relations programs.

International Consumer Protection - Globalization is one of the central consumer protection developments of the 21st century, commanding the attention of businesses, consumers, law enforcers, and policymakers around the world. The FTC pursues the development of an international market-based consumer protection model, which focuses on protecting consumers from significant harm while maximizing economic benefit and consumer choice.

There are many options for individuals, families, educators, and community leaders to use the FTC site to help share knowledge and experiences and empower individuals within a community.

As we all work to "Make everything fine in 2009" visit the Federal Trade Commission site, read a section that applies to you, add your number to the National Do Not Call Registry, check your credit report and encourage others to do the same, read the scholarship scam reports and articles, or learn about Children's Privacy and Identity Theft Privacy. There is something for everyone through the FTC pages and links.
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