Tim Rohrbaugh, Chief Experience Officer at Identity Guard, shares information on why children are at risk of identity theft from the Anthem Health security breach.
We all know breaches are terrible, but in today's world they happen almost monthly. Why then does the Anthem breach have everyone so scared? First, this is the very first large scale breach that contained medical information, one of our most personal pieces of data, that's scary. Second, it is now being reported that the breach may have been initiated in China or another foreign country. So now my medical data is in China? That's really scary. Lastly, children's information was part of the breach. Now this is the part we should be really scared about.
Why the Anthem breach is a watershed event for children?
- This is the first major breach of Social Security numbers and birthdates of children
- The information that was stolen on children was tied or associated with their parents stolen information (this is important)
- Children do not have established credit files or identities to refute attempts to establish credit in their name
These three facts combine to create a catastrophic event for children. Children are essentially more vulnerable to an identity attack because they have not established any credit or identity records. They are in effect "off the grid" when it comes to financial information. Add to this that the thieves now have an "on the grid" related record in the parents information and you have a deadly combination. Thieves will use the combined parent and children data to create new "synthetic ID's". Synthetic ID's take information from multiple identities and combine them to make a new fake identity. Why are kids the best targets? Because they have nothing to refute the synthetic ID. They don't have established records or information that can tell banks and others "Hey, this doesn't look right". And now for the really bad part, most children won't even find out they been victimized until they are an adult and start to establish credit.
What can I do? Here are a few steps you can take.
- Be vigilant in protecting your child's SSN and other personal information. Does the local soccer league really need Joanie's SSN?
- Be on the lookout for marketing offers (via email or mail) addressed to your child. This is an early warning sign that something may be wrong.
- Sign your child up for Identity Monitoring. Be careful; only choose a service that does not create a credit record for your child (this is bad as it can be leveraged by a thief). Identity Guard's KidSure child monitoring is the most unobtrusive for child monitoring and provides excellent protection www.identityguard.com/kidsure.
- For older children, speak with your child about the breach, explain the risks, and ask for their help in looking out for anything that seems suspicious.
It's a scary world and it just got even scarier for most children in America. We need regulation and consequences for corporations that do not protect the data we have trusted them to protect. But more importantly, do they really need all that data?