Identity theft is a growing menace. With each passing day, cyber criminals are getting greedier and more malicious. They don’t spare anyone when it comes to reaping unethical financial gains.They wont stop at anything and that includes conning innocent little children.
A child’s identity is a hot commodity in the underground economy. Usually a child has no credit history. That’s a clean slate for criminals to restart what they once squandered. Since children wouldn’t be using their Social Security number until much later in their lives, the crime goes unnoticed for years giving the criminals many years of nefarious activities.
How does a child’s identity get compromised?
It doesn’t take a genius to steal your child’s identity. Sometimes adults and children disclose their Social Security number to untrustworthy parties. While most schools, government offices, and hospitals are bound by law to protect a person’s social security number, sometimes it can slip through the cracks and make its way into the wrong hands. Once the Social Security number is out there, it is easy to figure out the child’s full name, address, and birthdate. Once all this information is pieced together the possibilities to exploit the child’s identity becomes limitless.
A new threat called synthetic identity theft allows a criminal to use a child’s Social Security number and forge a different name, address and birthdate. People with lousy credit histories patronize these criminals and have found a way to get loans and mortgages. In most cases they are likely to default on the payment and ruin the child’s credit history.
Is my child’s identity compromised?
There are a few telltale signs of child’s identity being compromised. They include
- Your child is getting calls from collection agencies or receives bills in his/her name.
- Your child is getting mail in their name for pre-approved credit cards and other offers.
- The government turns down your child for benefits because his/her Social Security number has already been used.
- The IRS sends your child a notice that he/she hasn’t paid income taxes.
- Your child is denied a bank account or driver’s license.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Even though Identity Theft can be resolved, it is a time consuming frustrating problem to solve. People spend months trying to fix their credit history. One can immediately freeze their credit but whatever credit cards and loans have been applied will continue to exist and will keep surfacing at a later date. This means more hours over the phone explaining who you are.
Sometimes identity theft victims have been arrested for crimes they didn’t commit.
Overall identity theft has the potential to irreversibly damage a person’s reputation, bring financial ruin and hinder job opportunities.
What should I do as a parent?
Use rule No.1 of parenting. Be careful. Do not broadcast your child’s Social Security number anywhere. This includes school forms, athletic events, registration forms, hospital forms, etc. It is easy to steal Social Security numbers from these forms if the people handling it are not careful and aware of identity theft. Make sure it is absolutely necessary for them to have it before you give it to them.
If your child’s identity is compromised, immediately notify the police. You can freeze the child’s credit. This will prevent any further crime. However, whatever has been issued will continue to exist.
How can I protect my child?
There are certain precautions one can take to keep a child’s identity safe.
- Keep all documents under lock and key.
- Teach children the importance keeping their Social Security information a secret.
- Keep your online devices free of viruses and spyware that can mine data from your machine and broadcast it to people with criminal intentions.
- Stop unsolicited credit card offers. Shred any paper that contains sensitive information. Criminals can pick these from your dumpster and piece information together.
- If you suspect that your child has been a victim of identity theft, act quickly. Call your creditor and financial institutions to report unauthorized charges or debits.
- Make a police complaint immediately to prevent any further crime.
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