Just typing that title, I am shaking my head at what people in this world are becoming. After several recent brushes with the theft of my own identity, and taking the actions necessary to recover from them, a whole new form of this predatory behavior came to my attention: people are stealing the identities of our kids!
A 2018 study by Javelin Strategy and Research points to shocking statistics:
Over 1 million kids had their identity stolen in 2017, two-thirds of whom were under the age of eight.
This fraud cost a total of 2.6 billion dollars and cost families of the victims over 540 million dollars out of their own pockets.
Minors who are bullied online are nine times more likely to have their identity stolen.
NBC News interviewed Al Pascual, Javelin’s Senior Vice President of Research, who stated, “This is just the tip of the iceberg; odds are there were far more than a million victims last year.” He continues, “Children are more likely to become fraud victims after a breach because their core identity elements, like Social Security numbers, are more valuable for criminals. Criminals can have a field day with a child’s identity information because it’s never been used before. When a bank or other company pulls a credit report, they’re not going to find anything, and so the criminal has a clean pallet to work on.”
What can parents do?
- Watch the mail: is your child receiving pre-approved credit card offers, medical bills, credit card bills, jury summons, and driver’s license renewals? These are red flags.
- TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax are credit reporting agencies that allow a parent to place a security freeze on their child’s credit. At this time, only 29 states allow this action, but it’s worth checking to see if the action is available in your state.
- Once a year, check your child’s credit report on annualcreditreport.com. And if your child is younger than 13, special instructions are found here.
- If you suspect or discover nefarious activity, the Identify Theft Resource Center can help you discover your next steps. Additional helpful can be found from the Identity Theft Council.
If you or your children have been a victim of identity theft please leave a comment about your experience.
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