How Do Identity Thieves are now Targeting Children.
The Carnegie Mellon University claims an estimated 10.2% of kid’s become identity theft victims. This ranges from 16 year-olds to even a 5-month-old-baby.
Similar to stealing an adult’s identity, a child’s data must first be gathered. This might include the child’s full name, social security number, current address, date of birth, and more. If the attacker is a friend or relative, or a mail thief, it becomes easy to make big fraud and theft attempts.
Here’s what the study shows:
- 70% of children who are victimized end up with fraudulent credit accounts or loans in their name.
- 18% of children end up with a utility bill in their name.
- 5% of children victims are targeted through mortgages, foreclosures, and other types of real estate fraud.
- 4% of children are defrauded for the purpose of creating fake driver’s licenses, whether for employment, financial fraud, or otherwise.
- 2% of children find themselves being the unsuspecting victim of vehicle registration fraud by organized crime circles and devoted criminals.
Here’s a look at 10 tips that will help ensure your child’s identity stays safe.
1) Make your child’s social security number private.
Your child’s social security number is all an attacker really needs to make your little one a victim of identity fraud. This is because it’s not yet common for businesses to have access to the official date of birth and name of the social security number holder. So, make sure your child’s number is never easy to find. Shred up any paperwork that comes in the mail with it, or at least remove that section. This information should always be kept confidential and your child also needs to understand that. Also, you should always limit the people who are entitled to these details.
2) Pay for Identity Theft Protection Services
The idea of paying for identity theft protection is no big deal when it keeps the parents safe. But, it might seem like an unnecessary investment when discussing the safety of your child’s identity. Yet, the statistics behind identity crimes against minors are alarming and something needs to be done.
3) Note All Parties Who Get Sensitive Information
Make sure to keep a list of the people and businesses that get to hear or read the social security number of your child. The same applies for other sensitive information that could help a criminal commit identity fraud or theft. This makes it easy to know where things went wrong if your child does become a victim.
4) Inquire on How Information Gets Handled
There are obvious cases where you do not need to give out your child’s social security number or other sensitive data. For example, this is not needed when you are putting a cell phone in your own name for your child. But, when needed, you should always ask about how this information will get handled. You need to find out whether the data gets stored in a safe way, and how the recipient will make sure it stays safe.
5) Check Your Child’s Earnings Report
Before subscribing for paid child identity theft protection, request an earnings report for your child’s social security number. The attacker could have swapped the birth date and name tying to the social security number. If this is the case, there will not be any credit report in your child’s name. Yet, the earnings record for the social security number could still show proof of identity fraud against your child.
6) Keep Confidential Data Off the Computer and Web
Is your child at the age where technology is starting to take over? If so, you probably have a good idea on how hard it can be to monitor their online usage. Yet, it is easy for an identity thief to find sensitive information through a minor’s social media account. You are no safer when you just store sensitive information and images offline. To put it simple, doing less to risk your child’s identity is the best approach of all.
7) Keep Your Child’s Documents Locked Away
It’s unfortunate but true, most identity thieves are the family, friends, or neighbors of their victims. As you never know who to trust, and even a cleaner could catch a glance at the right time, it’s best to keep all this information under wraps. Find a good hiding spot in your room or buy a safe and make sure no one else has access. Believe it or not, many identity thieves with relation to their victims never meant to hurt them. In fact, even parents have been to blame for stealing their own children’s identities.
8) Watch for Medical Bills
You need to keep an eye on your mail for any suspicious bills that could show up. But, don’t hold onto too much hope that the attacker avoided changing the mailing address. Instead, go the extra mile by keeping an eye on your child’s medical history for any inaccuracies.
9) Take Action Right Away
The first time a red flag shows up, act right away. Overprotecting your child will go a lot further than under protecting them. And to do this, you should follow these steps:
- File an FTC complaint, which creates an ‘Identity Theft Affidavit’.
- Include any evidence, such as debt bills or IRS letters.
- Use the affidavit to file a local police report.
- Let all creditors and report bureaus know the activity is fraudulent.
- Request all fraudulent actions to be removed from your credit report.
- Pressure each of the three bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) to investigate further.
- Pay to have a credit freeze on your child’s report to prevent any further damage.
10) Talk to Them
By the time your child is 10 years of age, you should sit down and have a serious talk with them about the truths of identity theft.