Although it sounds impossible, it isn’t. Identity thieves target children’s unused Social Security numbers and commit all kinds of crimes.
A Carnegie Mellon CyLab study, the largest child ID theft report ever published, came to some sobering conclusions. First, 10.2% of children in the report had someone else using their Social Security number—that’s 51 times higher than the rate for adults in the same population. And of course you’re wondering what an identity thief could possibly do with a child’s Social Security number. After all, children don’t even work. Well, the CyLab study discovered that child IDs are used to do everything from buying a home or automobile, open credit card accounts, get a driver’s license or even to get a job.
The largest fraud in the study? $750,000, was committed against a 16 year old girl. No, this not a typo. How about the youngest victim? Five months old.
Q. How do thieves use a child’s personal information?
Identity thieves use a child’s personal information for their own benefit. For instance, they might apply for a new car loan or a new line of credit. Suddenly, without even knowing about it, your child could become connected to bank accounts, a home mortgage, or even criminal records that an identity thief has created using your child’s personal details. This is why identity theft protection, even for your children, is extremely important.
Q. What effect could identity theft have on my child?
- Years of financial damage could be done before the crime is discovered, potentially requiring years of damage control to correct it.
- Your child may not be approved to open a bank or checking account.
- Your child may not be accepted for credit, a mortgage or a college loan.
- Your child could be denied a driver’s license, as well as other household resources, such as a lease, utility accounts and more.
- Your child could have a criminal record in his/her name.
Q. What can I do to help protect my child from identity theft?
- Start using Identity Guard® kID SureSM to monitor your child’s personal information to see if they’re exposed and, if so, to what degree.
- Explain identity theft to your child so he/she knows it exists and the effect it could have on their future.
- Remind your child not to give their personal information to anyone.
- Take note of mail, such as bills, DMV or Internal Revenue Service correspondence, as well as prepaid credit offers, that arrive at home in your child’s name. Follow them up with a dispute.
- Keep your child’s Social Security card in a safe place, not in your wallet or purse.
- Only provide your child’s Social Security number when absolutely necessary; always question a business or individual’s “need to know”.