Children are Prime Targets for ID Theft
Children are increasingly victims of identity theft. Children are 51 times more likely to be a victim of identity theft than adults, according to a recent study by Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab. In addition, it has been reported by Javelin Strategy & Research that more than 1 million children were targets of identity theft in a single year. Half of those child victims were under the age of six. And, the out-of-pocket expenses that hit these families totaled $540 million. Identity thieves are interested in children’s Social Security numbers because they are a blank slate; that is, they don’t have a credit history.
Untapped credit history and freshly-issued Social Security numbers make children prime targets for criminals looking to open new wireless accounts, bank accounts, and credit cards using the child’s personal information. Your child’s Social Security number can also be used by identity thieves to establish a fake identity with pieces of real information, known as synthetic identity theft — named the fastest-growing financial crime in the United States by the Federal Reserve.
Tips for Protecting Your Child’s Personal Information
- Understand where your child’s PII is stored; verify that school records are secure.
- Know how any PII information you provide on school forms will be used – and whether it will be shared, and with whom.
- Verify that school forms are updated and stored securely and whether it is indeed necessary to even provide PII about your child.
- Ask about the school’s directory information policy and what information about your child is included. You have the choice to opt-out.
Be Aware: Data Breaches Becoming More Prevalent in Schools
It’s becoming more common for educational institutions to experience data breaches, and stories of real identity theft crimes targeting children are growing. Criminals can essentially get free range over your child’s identity for well over a decade. It’s not until your child tries to get their first job, enroll in college, or rent their first apartment will the fraudulent activity surface as part of their credit history.
Protect Your Child’s Identity with ChildWatch
To learn more about how you can further protect your children, visit our Member Support area under Identity Theft 101.
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Did You Know?
Parents and legal guardians are allowed to freeze their children’s credit for free at each of the major credit bureaus.
“6% of all identity theft victims are under the age of 20.”
Source: Federal Trade Commission (FTC)