On this blog, we’ve discussed protecting yourself from identity theft at length. However, the most vulnerable people in your household to the negative effects of identity fraud are your children.
“You’ve seen TV commercials and print ads about identity theft, and the ‘victim’ is always an adult. That’s not realistic,” writes Robert Siciliano of the Examiner. “The actor-portrayal should be that of a child. Yes, a kid. Children are 51 times more likely than adults to have their identity stolen…Crooks want kids’ Social Security Numbers. And crooks like the fact that kids are debt-free.”
What makes children such an easy target for ID theft ? Here are a few reasons why fraudsters prey on minors to procure and exploit personal data:
It’s easy to obtain a child’s identity. As a parent, you complete countless forms to enroll your child in various programs, from school to dance lessons. Information about your child’s identity is also present on your family’s health care plan. Whether thieves use your information as an avenue to obtain your children’s data or exploit systems at schools and other facilities, pieces of data about your children exist wherever they’ve been formally accounted for. Small parcels of information like a child’s full name and birth date (often published in social media birth announcements) could set the stage for synthetic identity fraud, constructed using some authentic pieces of data and others that have been invented.
Children’s identities are debt-free. Adults can be messy targets for identity theft when their finances aren’t in ideal shape. Certain legitimate liabilities against an adult’s credit can make it tough for criminals to open new accounts in that person’s name. Children, on the other hand, are clean targets. With no debts to their name, opening lines of credit and racking up costs under their identity comes with fewer hurdles. When child victims turn 18, suddenly years of identity theft can ruin their chances for a normal financial future. This is because their once-pristine credit history has been savaged by criminals.
Awareness of child identity theft is low. The Attorney General of Maryland recently launched an awareness campaign alerting parents about the dangers of child identity theft. According to Fox 5 DC, about one in 40 families are victimized by identity fraudsters, a statistic that might shock the average mother or father. Because parents and guardians may not know to monitor their children’s credit, many incidents of child ID fraud fly under their radar until it’s too late. Some states (including Maryland) have passed laws allowing parents to freeze their children’s credit history through childhood, making it harder for criminal activity to taint their records as adults.
Nevertheless, these protections don’t exist all over the country. If you’re committed to protecting yourself and your children from the ravages of ID theft, contact Identity Guard today. We can tell you more about the benefit of credit monitoring services which alert consumers to certain activity that may indicate fraud.