Thieves Target Kids in Social Security Identity Theft Schemes
As August winds to a close, many parents across the country are preparing their children to go back to school. Unfortunately, this is a prime time for children to become the targets of social security identity theft.
A study published in 2012, conducted by Javelin Strategy and Research, showed that 2.5 percent of households in the US, with children under the age of 18, experienced child social security identity theft. However, they added that the number may be much higher because many kids and their parents do not realize that the child’s identity has been stolen until the child grows up.
“In the past two years, we’ve seen the issue of child identity theft garner media and consumer attention, but there are many misunderstandings about this crime, and more work needs to be done to educate consumers,” said Steve Schwartz, president of Partner Services at Intersections, which provides consumer- and corporate-identity risk-management services.
Scammers who steal children’s identities are after one thing – the social security number. Those numbers are used to generate synthetic IDs, according to the Javelin report.
Synthetic IDs use a social security number, registered to someone else, along with a new birthdate to fabricate an identity that can be used to commit credit card and other kids of fraud.
“Synthetic identities are very difficult to detect,” the study said.
Part of preparing to go back to school involves using children’s social security numbers in a variety of settings, from registering at school to getting immunizations at the doctor’s office.
“When someone asks for a date of birth or a Social Security number in connection with a child — whether it’s preschool or kindergarten — you really need to ask them, what do you need it for and what are you going to do with it and who else is going to see it? How do I know that it’s protected?” said Adam Levin, founder of Identity Theft 911, which provides identity-management and identity-theft recovery services for businesses. “The thing parents have to remember is that this is an asset. Failure to properly guard it exposes your child to what could be over a decade of credit abuse that they’re not even aware of until they get old enough to actually apply for something. Then, they’re suddenly unpleasantly surprised.”
“It’s important to ask why an organization needs your child’s full name, date of birth, and Social Security number,” says Trey Loughran, president of the Personal Solutions unit at Equifax. “This is your child’s identity—it’s something parents should not give away casually, especially as the incidence of identity theft continues to grow among Americans of all ages.”
Protect Yourself and Your Children from Social Security Identity Theft
Child social security identity theft is a growing problem. It occurs when someone—a family member, friend, or stranger—obtains the child’s social security number and establishes lines of credit, driver’s licenses, or abuses the child’s identity in other ways.
Here are a few tips to protect your child from social security identity theft:
• Don’t carry your child’s Social Security card around with you. Memorize the number, and have your child memorize their own number when they are old enough to need it
• Use a cross-cut shredder to destroy documents with your child’s full name and other identifying details, including date of birth.
• If you’re notified by letter that your child’s personal information has been compromised, first confirm that the letter is legitimate. If so, take advantage of any free identity protection services offered and contact the three credit bureaus.
• If you have several children and one is a victim of identity theft, closely monitor the personal information of your other children.
• Make sure your kids use passwords for their smartphones and tablets, and make sure they change the passwords frequently. Also, remind them not to give out passwords to friends, and make sure they do not post personal information online or on social media.
Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud Can Hurt Your Future
If you have experienced identity theft, you are not alone. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help clear your name and even reinstate your social security benefits. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case. Do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800.