It may come as no surprise that the crime of identity theft is not confined to adults. In fact, child identity theft has become one of the fastest-growing sectors of this type of crime. Each year, thousands of incidents of identity theft victims under the age of 18* are reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) .
Identity thieves have begun focusing extra attention on children for two reasons: 1) Kids have clean credit histories; and 2) Criminals may be able to conduct their illicit behavior for years without being caught.
A child's clean credit record provides an identity thief with the means to open credit accounts in the child's name, and to use the child's Social Security number to secure employment or even rent an apartment. And this information may not be too difficult to obtain because, like many crimes, identity theft is often committed by a family friend or relative who sees the victim as a convenient money-making resource.
Moreover, the fact that a thief can use a child's identity for a long time without being caught may be the most appealing aspect of this crime. It makes for the ideal scheme high benefits and low risk. Think about it. A criminal who steals the identity of a seven-year-old boy may be able to use 'his credit for more than a decade before he finds out. It may not be until the victim applies for his first credit card during college that he learns his identity has been compromised.
Although the risks of child identity theft are real and potentially devastating, children may be able to be protected by watching for warning signs and avoiding certain actions.
- Take note if your child begins receiving credit card promotional mailings. Take this as a warning sign that their information may be in the hands of an identity thief and be sure to request a detailed credit report to help you identify suspicious activity.
- Avoid sharing your child's Social Security number with a business, whether it's on the Web or during a phone call, unless the business' legitimacy has been verified.
- Shred documents that contain your child's personal or private details. Thieves often look through trash searching for this kind of valuable information.
- See what you can do to help protect your child’s identity.
- See how Identity Guard® kID Sure® can help protect your kids.