DENVER, November 16, 2004 ? At a recent Qwest summit on identity theft, a panel of experts revealed alarming statistics that showed teenagers are becoming the most highly-targeted age group for identity thieves.
?Young people under the age of 29 years old should be particularly vigilant about identity theft,? Betsy Broder, assistant director of the Federal Trade Commission?s (FTC) Division of Planning and Information said at a recent summit on teen identity theft sponsored by Qwest Communications. ?Young people comprise an estimated 31 percent of all victims who reported they were victims of identity theft to the FTC in 2003.?
Broder noted that the first time many teenagers discover their identification has been stolen is when they apply for a driver?s license or credit and discover someone else has been using their name and Social Security number. This discovery can be an exceptionally traumatic experience for anyone, but particularly so for teenagers and young people.
?It feels like you have no control over your life,? says Rhea Takara of San Diego, Calif., whose father stole her identity when she was 18 years old and forged her name on credit card receipts. ?Lots of people don?t even want to talk about it because the theft often involves someone they know. It was very hard for me to be betrayed by a parent.? In fact, law enforcement officials said teens are frequently targets of identity theft by relatives, roommates, co-workers and other acquaintances.
Takara and Broder were on a panel of experts at the one-day Qwest summit in Denver devoted exclusively to the problem of educating teens about the threat of identity theft.
The first-of-its-kind summit brought together influential members from business, government, law enforcement, education and civic groups to identify the problems young people face with respect to identity theft and to begin developing initiatives to help protect them. Among the experts findings, summarized today in a report of the summit?s proceedings:
- Create partnerships between public and private entities to focus on programs that protect teens from identity theft. They recommended that high schools and colleges incorporate identity theft workshops into their curriculums.
- Develop strong links between law enforcement and government agencies to better combat teen identity fraud as well as stay attuned to technological advances designed to spot identity theft. Institutions such as businesses and schools need to establish better controls to guard sensitive personal information, according to the summit participants.
?Teens comprise approximately 20 percent of our customer base and we?re concerned that this age group is often overlooked by organizations that educate the public on identity theft,? said David Heller, Qwest vice president of risk management and chief compliance officer. ?Qwest believes it?s crucial to educate and empower teens to take the necessary steps to reducing the incidence of identity theft.?
To learn more about the Summit?s findings and get tips on preventing the identity theft of teens please visit www.qwest.com/identitytheft and click on the Teen Summit button.
Qwest?s 2004 Summit on Preventing Identity Theft of Teens is but one part of the company?s overall program to protect consumers from fraud and identity theft. A Web site at www.highwayqwest.com/identitytheft, which includes a free teen video available for download, has been created to provide detailed information on identity theft especially for teens. In addition, Qwest joined forces with the Denver District Attorney?s Office to create a consumer education video, Identity Theft ? Don?t Be a Victim. The free video is available to community organizations and can be ordered through www.qwest.com/identifytheft, a Web site created by Qwest as a user-friendly resource for consumers of all ages to educate themselves about all aspects of identity theft.
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