Digital technology had changed the way people buy, sell, connect, and see the world, but it’s also changed the way people steal. Phishing schemes, manual hackers, and trojan horses all seek your personal information through digital means, while other dishonest people might take advantage of a used bank card or misplaced ID.

But what characteristics do identity thieves look for? Here’s a look at who might be susceptible to identity theft, and how to guard against it.

Children

With a clean credit record, identity thieves can take out lines of credit, loans, and cash advances. Children are easy prey because they cannot protect themselves alone. They can be taken advantage of if hospital, doctor, or school records are put in the wrong hands. In fact, a skilled can artist can open fraudulent accounts with what may seem like trivial documents such as a sports team application and/or a library card. It is up to a child’s parents to make sure the family, young and old, is protected from malicious persons. An identity theft prevention service that monitors names, Social Security numbers, and bank cards help adults and children protect themselves from financial harm.

College Students

College students are exploring the world in new ways, are typically optimistic, and often don’t believe they could be the victims of identity theft. The reality, however, is the opposite. The Federal Trade Commission estimates 31 percent of identity theft victims are between the ages of 18 and 29. College students spend a huge portion of their time on computers. Whether for online assignments, socializing, or fun, college students rely on their digital devices. It is not a surprise, therefore, that college students keep much of their personal information in their computers and on their phones. But college campuses are hot spots for hackers who connect to public Wi-Fi networks and force entry into others’ digital devices. While most college students are savvy enough to set their computers up with an antivirus and firewall, the same steps should be taken with smartphones. Many antivirus providers have smartphone applications that protect data.

Smartphones

In that same vein, it’s rare that anyone doesn’t carry a smartphone these days. The ubiquitous nature of smartphones has seen an increase in access points for identity theft. Of course, your phone can be stolen and along with it, your personal information. It’s also more difficult to identify scams on smartphones, because of the smaller screens. While Apple runs a tight ship in the App Store and doesn’t allow unauthorized applications, Android phones are not locked into such an ecosystem. While this means there are far more apps for Android users, it also means anyone can make those apps and distribute them; naturally, hackers have created apps on the past that collected users’ personal information. For this reason, Android phones should always be equipped with a security app.

Safety First

Protect yourself against malicious hackers with the latest antivirus services and smartphone security apps. Hackers constantly invent new tools of deception and that’s why every adult should keep track of the latest identitiy theft trends and privacy technology.