Major Risk Tip: Child Identity Theft
One issue that no one wants to face is identity theft. This year there will be about 10 million victims of identity theft and one third of them will be children & teens. That’s 3.33 million victims! They are considered an easy target because it may take years or even a decade before the theft is noticed. Child identity theft is one of the fastest growing ID crimes, having increased 300% in the past 5 years.
The average child victim is between the ages of 6 & 8. Typically families won’t discover their child was a victim until they apply for a drivers license, or for college loans & credit cards. Think about how often you give out your child’s social security number, or yours for that matter. Doctor’s offices, daycares, schools, & sports teams are just a few examples. If this information falls into the wrong hands damage can be done. The average identity theft results in $12,779 of debt and 44 hours trying to clear up credit.
While you expect hackers to be namesless & faceless, this is not always the case. Many hit close to home. Around 25% of victims claim that friendly fraud was responsible for the theft, meaning a close family member may have used a child’s name & social security number when applying for credit, buying a car, obtaining a loan, etc.
What can be done?
1. Ensure your child is not sharing their information online. Especially their social security number. Do they even need access to it? Young kids are more receptive to phishing scams.
2. Take precautionary measures by only giving out your child’s social security number when absolutely necessary.
3. Enroll in an identity theft prevention program like Identity Guard.
4. Look for the warning signs below.
Unsolicited Credit Card Offers – These typically come frequently after a credit inquiry/application has been filed.
Contacted by a collection agency – Must I explain?
First visit to DMV – Unpaid parking tickets?
Credit Applications Denied – Background checks, applying to a job, etc.
If you are a victim
1. Report it to the local police.
2. Call each of your credit card insurers. Get replacement cards.
3. Call the fraud units of the credit bureaus.
4. Keep a log of all conversations with authorities and financial entities. Follow up.
5. File an identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
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