We may earn compensation from some providers. Learn More

Children Identity Theft

All Security Reviews Staff · December 5, 2013

Children Identity Theft

Identify theft doesn’t just happen to adults with credit cards and bank accounts. In fact, children’s identities are stolen at a 51 percent higher clip than adults. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University examined identity protection scans of more than 42,000 children completed in 2009 and 2010. They found 10.2 percent had a Social Security number being used by someone else, compared to 0.2 percent for adults. Of the 4,311 victims, 43 percent were 15 to 18 years old. The largest fraud, about $725,000, was committed against a 16-year-old girl. Thieves used the Social Security number of one victim identified in the study, a 12-year-old living in a border state, to obtain credit, jobs, and utilities. Scammers accumulated more than $58,000 in debt, including a $30,000 car, thousands of dollars in unpaid rent and $23,000 in credit card bills. In most cases, child identify theft goes unnoticed for years until the affected child is older, looking to get a cell phone or take out student loans. Credit agencies don’t create reports for people under the age of 18. In most states, credit bureaus are not required to freeze a credit line for any person that doesn’t have an existing credit report. And since there is no process for credit bureaus to check ages against the names and Social Security numbers of people applying for credit, it’s easy for scammers to pair an existing Social Security number with a new name and birthdate. Elected officials are trying to make it harder. Last year, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the Maryland Child Identity Lock bill into law. The law allows parents to freeze their child’s credit at any time. In Wisconsin, Rep. Jeff Stone is authoring a bill, the Child Credit Protection Act, that works in the same way. If the law passes, parents could ask credit-reporting agencies to create a credit report for their child, then freeze it. Until such measures reach your state, here are some ways you can protect your child and his or her future. Keep your child’s Social Security number and other personal information secret and safe. Lock up important documents where intruders or would-be fraudsters can’t access it, and don’t carry your child’s Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Keep an eye out for mail in your child’s name. Financial offers, including pre-approved credit cards, could indicate an open credit report. Don’t give out your child’s Social Security number. In many states, schools ask for the number upon enrollment but parents are not required to give it. Ask for an alternate identifying number instead. Sign up for identify theft services specifically geared toward children, like LifeLock Junior. LifeLock monitors your child’s Social Security number to detect a credit file, patrols more than 10,000 black-market websites and searches peer-to-peer sharing sites for identity exposure. Talk to your child about online safety. Warn against sharing personal data on social networking sites. This includes your child’s birthday, school, address and phone number. Monitor what sites your child visits. Talk about what websites are appropriate and set some rules. Children shouldn’t click on pop-up ads, buy anything online without permission or open strange e-mails.

All Security Reviews Staff avatar

All Security Reviews Staff

Our team at All Security Reviews (ASR) has extensive experience in the personal security industry. At ASR we bring this experience and expertise to you by reviewing security providers and grading each company through our proprietary Identity Protection Rating System.