Few things can get me angrier than adults who mess with children. There are the obvious age old crimes, but let’s look at a new one – your child’s privacy.
On July 12th the FTC and the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime hosted “Stolen Futures: A Forum on Child Identity Theft“. Some of the information was:
- A child is 51 times more likely to have their identity stolen than an adult.
- 1 in 10 children will have their identity stolen.
- The majority of Child Identity Theft is by organized crime.
- A credit report will NOT discover if a child’s Social Security Number is being used for credit.
A SSN that has never been used is gold for thieves, since there is no connection from TransUnion, Experian, Equifax and Innovis to the Social Security Administration. The first time a SSN, Child’s name and birthday are connected together at the Credit Reporting companies is with the first application for credit. Thieves are taking advantage of these holes in the system by combining Child Identity Theft and Synthetic Identity Theft. They combine the child’s SSN with a different name and birthday. The birthday usually makes the ‘new’ person between 18 and 22 years old. Every day young adults apply for their first credit – cards, cell phone, apartment, department store credit. The Credit Reporting companies expect to create hundreds of new accounts every day and most of them are legal.
When a parent tried to do the right thing and run a credit report for their child, it came back ‘No Record Found’ because the SSN, Name and Birthday had to match. A false sense of security was created because the system could not discover that the SSN had been used synthetically. It is estimated that a credit report will only find 1% of Child ID Theft. TransUnion and AllClear ID have joined forces to provide a free service to Scan for your child’s SSN only to find out if it is being used. It is call ChildScan. They make their money if they discover the child’s SSN is being used. At that time they will offer to fix it for a fee, but you can probably do it on your own for free (if you have the time).
The FTC has also created information and a web-site to educate parents and children about the dangers of ‘Living Life Online’:
“Your life is hectic: you go to school, spend time with your family, do your homework, hang out with friends, and carve out some time for yourself. As you live your life online and off, some behaviors can help you be more successful: asking questions to help you figure out what’s real and what’s hype; thinking about things to do – or not – that can help you keep safe; figuring out ways to act that can help you treat others the same way you’d like to be treated. Reading this guide and doing the activities can help you navigate your worlds more safely.”
Start educating your children today. Check their Social Security Number now, but no later than age 16. Give yourself at least two years to get their identity cleared before they apply to a college. They will be turned down, if they are a victim. It would be nice if you could put a Credit/Security Freeze on their credit, but the three major credit bureaus aren’t permitted to keep records on children younger than 18. Since there is no credit record, it can not be frozen. Please keep your child’s future secure, by keeping an eye on their identity!