Identity Theft May Affect 1 in 10 Kids
June 18, 2012
Looking forward to the day when you can finally cut those apron strings and release your young adult into the world of financial independence? For many on the brink of adulthood, a teen’s first credit card is the first exciting step toward financial independence and an opportunity to begin with a clean slate credit-wise. Unfortunately, some teens and their families have met this experience with shock rather than excitement as they discover they’ve become victims of an increasingly common crime trend: child identity theft, reports ABC News.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, within the last three years alone, 57,000 cases of child identity theft have been reported. Astonishingly, this crime is a new epidemic that is estimated to victimize one in 10 U.S. children, according to a report from All Clear ID, a company that offers identity theft protection. The company also found that the rate of identity theft was 35 times higher than the rate for adults in the same population, and that 10.7 percent of the kids in their sample data from 27,000 children had someone else using their Social Security number.
Plus: Money Lessons for Mom: How to Protect Your Family’s Finances
Authorities report that identity thieves have increasingly begun preying upon children because it often takes much longer for the crime to be discovered—possibly even years, until the child tries to apply for student loans or a credit card.
Plus: Easy Money: Score a Smarter Credit Card
According to identity theft protection expert, Bo Holland, CEO of All Clear ID, no age is too young for these criminals.
“We've seen children have this crime begin as early as 5 months old and then it goes on for years,” Holland told ABC. “A parent will typically find out when their child is moving into adulthood. When they are about to go to college, they apply for that first loan and, boom, they get denied," a realization with lasting repercussions as victims must first clear their names in order to ever get a credit card or loan in the future.
Plus: More on How to Prevent Identity Theft
How can you ensure that this doesn’t happen to your child? Experts from the Bureau of Consumer Protection give the following advice to parents:
• Be sure to install antivirus software on home computers
• Remind your child that a Social Security number is extremely private and should never be given out
• Frequently check your child’s credit, even if they are not of age, using their Social Security number—not just their name and birth date (as others may have used the SSN with a different name, etc.)
Has your child or someone you know been a victim of child identity theft? What additional measures do you think should be taken to protect your child’s identity?