December 30, 2015 by Lisa Brammer
I saw an interesting post on Facebook the other day that showed what life was like in 1915 and how different our lives are now compared to then. It’s amazing how much has changed in the past 100 years. Or is it? When I contemplate, let’s say, the past 10 years, I can think of a lot of changes that have taken place in my life, most notable is my online presence. I now do just about everything online. I bank online, I shop online, I pay my bills online, I visit with friends online, I research information online, I borrow books from the library online, I book travel online, I file my taxes online, and the list goes on and on. I sound like Forrest Gump describing what you can make with shrimp.
Do you know how much easier my life has gotten since I started doing all of this stuff online? That’s how easy life has gotten for hackers of information. It’s kind of the yin and yang of it all—you get the good and the bad.
Identity theft is a term that is thrown around so much I’m afraid we’ve almost become desensitized to it. But I know, you know it’s an ever-present threat. However, what you may not know is that it’s a real threat to your children—no matter how young they are! According to my (online) research the youngest victim was 5-months-old. Yes that’s correct, only 5 months!
Where did I get this statistic? I got it from Carnegie Mellon University’s Cylab study, Child Identity Theft. They used a database that contained over 800,000 identity records of which 42,232 were children under 18. What they found was quite disturbing. 4,311 of those kids had their Social Security number stolen—over 10 percent. That’s 51 times higher than the 0.2 percent rate found for the adults in the same pool.
These kid’s ID’s were used for a multitude of purposes from purchasing homes and cars to opening credit card accounts. They were also used for obtaining employment and driver’s licenses. The largest fraud was committed against a 16-year-old girl, to the tune of $725,000.
According to the data in this report, identity thieves are targeting children because of the value attached to their Social Security numbers. These virtually unused numbers are extremely valuable because there currently isn’t any way for employers or creditors to check which name (and birth date) legitimately goes with which Social Security number. It’s scary to know that as long as a fraudster has a SSN with a clean history, he or she can attach any name and birth date to it. And since parents don’t typically monitor their children’s identities the likelihood of them getting caught is very low even though the impact to the kid’s future could be devastating.
The study found that the people most likely to initiate these thefts are illegal immigrants (looking to obtain fake ID’s) organized crime members (for financial gain) and family and friends (to outsmart bad credit scores).
What can you do to prevent your child from becoming a victim?
▪ Pay attention to any pre-approved credit card or other financial offers that come in the mail addressed to your child. This could be a sign that your child may have an open credit file (People under 18 should not typically have a credit report).
▪ Teach your children about the importance of keeping their personal information private especially when online.
▪ Protect your children’s personal information by keeping their Social Security numbers locked up so visitors and other family members cannot have access to it—you just never know.
We all do what we can to protect ourselves from these attacks, it’s time we do the same for our children.
Founded in 1950, United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service, licensed revenue cycle management and debt collection agency in Wisconsin providing effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Visit our website at http://www.unitedcreditservice.com, call 877-723-2902 or check out our YouTube video.