McKayla Maroney. Missy Franklin. Kirani James. These Olympic gold medalists have inspired us with their athleticism and poise—on the floor, in the pool or around the track. When you watch them perform with equal grace in media interviews, it’s hard to believe they’re just kids.

Until they remind us, that is. Maroney’s many facial expressions—including a podium pout after winning silver instead of gold on the vault—have earned her Internet stardom in multiple memes. Franklin, a big fan of Justin Bieber, reacted with giddy delight after receiving props on Twitter from the pop idol himself: “I just died! Thank you!”

Meanwhile, their fellow Olympians, even those who are older and more experienced, are channeling their inner teenager with “poor judgment” and “small acts of impropriety,” noted the . First there was the expulsion of the American judo fighter Nick Delpopolo after a drug test showed traces of marijuana in his system. (He claims to have unwittingly eaten a pot-laced treat before the games.) Then swimmer Ryan Lochte admitted to urinating in the pool during race warm-ups. And how could we not notice when the North Korea women’s soccer team threw a tantrum by refusing to take the field for 40 minutes because South Korea’s flag was accidentally placed on the stadium scoreboard?

We watch this youthful display of naïveté and indiscretion, and we find it, for the most part, charming. It’s part of the appeal of watching the Olympics, to vicariously experience the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” But in the real world, away from televised athletic glory, this innocence makes young people vulnerable to certain types of crime—and that’s not easy for anyone to watch, especially us. Identity theft is one area where the blithe ignorance of children and their parents can be more costly than a wobbly landing or delayed start off the blocks. It can hamper their ability to secure funding to attend college or buy a car, and to land a job.

Children aren’t the only ones who are vulnerable to identity theft. This year’s 2012 (In)Security Games medalists in the event of most targeted victims of identity theft go to:

Gold: Children under 18
Sad, but true fact: These days and dozens of credit cards by the time they’re in middle school. Often they don’t know their identity has been stolen until they are older and trying to apply for a student loan or credit. By then, resolving the problem can be difficult and time-consuming. Parents can take steps to protect their children by following our tips.

Silver: Travelers
More travelers are becoming victims of identity theft, whether they’re taking the family on a vacation or logging miles for work. Even the most experienced traveler can have a hard time keeping track of their personal and work-related belongings in the Bermuda Triangle that exists between the airport, taxi and hotel. To make matters worse, about securing smartphones with passwords, using secure Wi-Fi connections and posting their vacation plans to social media sites. Follow , and you’ll be better off no matter where you’re going.

Bronze: Seniors
The elderly are vulnerable to identity theft scams because often they are more trusting, have more savings and home equity built up, and are less likely to monitor their credit and financial accounts. In fact, they lose an estimated $2.9 billion from fraud, according to a 2011 MetLife Mature Market Review report. They’re particularly vulnerable to medical, estate and tax-related identity theft. Don’t become a statistic. Protect yourself with these .

Restoring your identity can be a costly, time-consuming process. If you suspect yours has been stolen, call your insurer or bank, which might provide LifeStages® Identity Management Services from IDentity Theft 911. Or directly.

Stay tuned this week for more coverage of the 2012 (In)Security Games.

Matt Cullina, Chief Executive Officer,
Matt has 15 years of insurance industry management, claims and product development experience. He spearheaded MetLife Auto & Home Insurance Co.’s personal product development initiatives, managed complex claims litigation and served as a corporate witness for Travelers Insurance and the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co.

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