Earlier this month the House Committee on Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security held hearings on Identity Theft. Part of the testimony covered theft of children’s Social Security Numbers. Deanya Kueckelhan, Director of the Southwest Regional Office of the Federal Trade Commission, provided testimony. Part of the FTC’s testimony covered Child Identity Theft.
In addition to its general efforts to combat identity theft, the Commission often examines how to target its outreach efforts toward vulnerable populations, such as children who have been victims of identity theft. Through a variety of means, identity thieves may deliberately capture and use a child’s SSN, or fabricate a SSN that coincidentally has been assigned to a child, in order to obtain employment, apply for government benefits, open new accounts, or apply for car loans or even mortgages. Indeed, one study has estimated that 142,000 instances of identity fraud are perpetrated on minors in the United States each year. Another study of 40,000 children who had been enrolled in an identity protection service found that 4,311 of those children or 10.2% had loans, property, utility, and other accounts associated with their SSNs. Child identity theft is especially pernicious because the theft may not be detected until the child becomes an adult and seeks employment, or applies for student and car loans.
The testimony also covered The Child Identity Theft Forum Discussions from June 2, 2011.
(Where) a representative from the Utah Attorney General’s Office discussed a Utah initiative that would enable parents to enroll their child in a state identity protection program. Utah would pass the child’s information onto TransUnion, which would in turn place a “high risk” alert on the child’s name and SSN. This program would help prevent an identity thief from attempting to obtain credit in the child’s name or SSN. According to the Utah representative, Utah would like to work with other states to expand the program nationwide, once it is fully implemented.
Utah is one of the few states, if not the only state, trying to provide parents a solution. It is sad that state and federal government officials are not providing parents with the tools to protect their children.
What do you think the solution should be?