Identity Thieves Target Children (Forbes)   Leave a comment

Identity Thieves Target Children

Scanned image of author's US Social Security card.Image via Wikipedia

 

Identity theft is on the rise in America, and kids are the latest victims. A recent study shows that children’s identities are being stolen at a rate 50 times greater than that of adults

“Child ID theft is a particularly troubling crime because it is often undetected for years,” says director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, David Vladeck.

A child could have his or her social security number appropriated by a stranger from, amongst other places, a school, hospital, or doctor’s office. The theft can occur as soon as a child is born or shortly thereafter. Social Security numbers are issued using a system that is more or less easy to predict, making it possible for thieves to snag brand new numbers, or ones that are just a couple of years old. A child, whose SSN has been taken and used, may not realize that they have been victimized until later in life when they apply for jobs or loans.

Michelle Denned is the former chief privacy officer for Sun Microsystems and vice president for privacy at Oracle Corp. Her 9-year-old daughter has had her identity stolen twice. Because she has focused the majority of her professional life on protecting people’s personal information, it seems surprising that her own daughter could be a two-time victim of identity thieves. “If this can happen to me, this can happen to anyone,” she said.

“The criminals are focused on where is the softest target and we’re handing them our kids,” Michelle asserts. “We have a whole generation of kids being compromised.”

Children typically don’t have any cause to use their social security numbers, so when stolen the thief then has a clean slate with which to establish a record, free from immigration problems or outstanding debt.

Before this disturbing new trend, no one even considered checking their child’s credit report, as children don’t have credit histories. A request for a minor’s credit report can’t even technically be made because, legally, a person does not begin establishing a credit record until the age of 18. The only effective way to thoroughly monitor a child’s identity is to investigate whether or not someone else is using their SSN in conjunction with their own name.

Over 8.1 million identities were stolen in 2010, according to an identity theft and fraud protection report released by Javelin Strategy & Research released in February of this year. Often, there are no obvious warning signs that a child’s identity has been stolen, thus most become victims without even knowing it. Anne Wallace, executive director of the Identity Theft Assistance Centre, said, “Obviously, these are very vulnerable victims.”

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Posted July 31, 2011 by ilanamelissagreene in Uncategorized

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