With increased awareness surrounding the threat of identity theft, many adults are being much more careful about protecting their personal and financial information. But, there is a new segment of the population who don’t even have credit reports falling victim to identity theft at a shocking rate… young children. Children are the ideal target for identity thieves because a criminal can establish an identity under the child’s Social Security number and operate undetected for many years. By the time the parent, or the victim as a young adult, discovers the problem, there is often a long ugly history of fraudulent activity, bad credit, many thousands of dollars in debt, and often criminal behavior and arrests, even felonies. Unfortunately, repairing the situation can take many years, long legal battles, lots of money, and cost the victim dearly as they are unable to obtain credit, find a job, or possibly denied a drivers license. The crime takes a severe financial and emotional toll.
Parents in particular are unaware of the myriad of ways a child’s identity can be stolen. They basically assume that no credit report… no chance of identity theft. But, birth records, hospital and doctor records, school and daycare records, sports and athletic team applications, and online social networks, among others, are examples of places that house detailed information that could be vulnerable to identity thieves. One study of 27,000 children indicated that over 10% were victims of identity theft.
The steps to protect your child’s identity are extremely simple, especially compared to the ramifications of having their identity stolen. There are some great tips on preventing child identity theft at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/menus/consumer/data/child.shtm, and also at http://www.wikihow.com/Protect-Your-Child-from-Identity-Theft.
If you discover your child is a victim you can find assistance at http://www.idtheftcenter.org/artman2/publish/v_fact_sheets/Fact_Sheet_120.shtml, and at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/menus/consumer/data/child.shtm.