Who is at Greatest Risk for Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a ubiquitous crime that comes in many forms and can affect anyone, but some groups of people are at an increased risk.


Children who are too young to have a credit history established are targeted by identity thieves for several reasons. With no history (and therefore no negative history), children represent a ‘clean slate’ for thieves to work with. Also, unless the parents are checking their child’s credit report—essentially to make sure there isn’t one yet—the theft may go unnoticed for years, at least until the victim becomes an adult and begins applying for student loans, credit cards or housing. If you’re a parent, be sure to check your kids’ credit reports whenever you check your own.


Seniors are often targeted for identity theft (and scams in general) over the phone and through online phishing attacks. Seniors are perceived to be most trusting, less savvy and wealthier, making them attractive targets for identity thieves. Some are also reluctant to report that they have been victimized, whether out of pride or shame, or fear that family members will think they are incapable of taking care of themselves.

College Students

College students are at higher risk for identity theft, especially theft is carried out by someone they know. Many are applying for credit cards for the first time, so their credit histories are relatively clean, plus they may not yet be aware of how important it is to keep personal information safe.

Military Personnel

Military service can include significant stretches of time away from home, where collection calls from creditors doesn’t actually owe anything to (one of the warning signs of identity theft) go unanswered, bills from credit cards the victim never applied for go unseen (another red flag), and where the nature of the job can push things like checking a credit report for discrepancies to the back burner.

Higher Income Households

Identity theft takes many forms, but it’s usually financial in nature, so it makes sense that members of higher-income households would be at increased risk. The promise of larger account balances and higher credit ratings makes them a tempting target.


You probably knew this part was coming: even if none of the above categories apply to you, you don’t get to coast. Everyone is a potential victim, and some of your information is almost certainly already out there being bought and sold. Check your credit reports, don’t ignore unexpected collections calls or bills, place credit freezes, and stay informed so you know what to watch out for.