It’s officially summer, and school is out for kids across the country, meaning they can finally put the pencils down and not worry about grades for the next couple of months. You probably remember what it was like when you were a child on the last day of school, with all your cares seemingly gone out the window. But now that you are a parent, you see the stresses that your folks probably faced when you were a kid and they didn’t have the security of the schoolyard to keep you out of harm’s way.
Most of the same worries that your parents had for you as a child have carried over to your generation of moms and dads. However, there are even more threats today to your child’s well being than there were when you were a kid, and not just to their physical health. Child identity theft has run rampant over the past several decades, and now children are the main target of thieves.
Children are significantly more likely to become victims than their parents
A recent report conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon found that of 40,000+ child-aged Social Security numbers assessed, roughly 10.2 percent had been stolen and used to commit identity fraud. Compared to adults, children are roughly 51 times more likely to have their identities stolen than adults, of whom only 0.2 percent had seen their Social Security numbers compromised.
Many Social Security numbers belonging to children are used to procure some very adult accounts
The identities that were stolen were used to obtain a wide array of accounts, from credit cards to home mortgages and automobile loans – even documents to obtain employment stateside. The largest fraud detected in the study was committed against a 16-year-old girl, who was already in $725,000 worth of debt thanks to an identity thief, although cases of larger debt accrual are not uncommon.
It seems like any child is fair game
The youngest person to be a victim was a 5-month-old baby, who already had accounts taken out in their name despite not even being old enough to have the ability to say their own name, let alone sign a contract or request a credit report.
Keep your child’s identity safe and secure by holding on tight to important documentation, like passports or Social Security cards, that display personal information that could be valuable to a thief. When you are at work, make sure your child isn’t putting themselves – or even you – in harms way while surfing the internet by updating your security settings and keeping a close eye on their search history. You should also make sure your activity is watched over by investing in a credit monitoring service, which will alert you to certain unauthorized activities that take place in your name that could be a sign of identity fraud.