Fast Facts: Child Identity Theft

The Financial Services Roundtable recently released another iteration of its Fast Facts, reliable, bullet-point research about issues facing the financial services industry. Topics span TARP, Dodd-Frank, insurance, lending, retirement savings and more.  Below are some updated Fast Facts on child identity theft as children may be an easy target for identity theft and often don’t discover it until years later when they apply for a job or attempt to take out a loan.

FACT: One in 40 households in the US with children under the age of ages 18 is affected by identity fraud.

FACT: 56% of child identity theft cases reported misuse of the child’s Social Security Number (SSN).

  • Thieves will often create a ‘synthetic identity’ using the child’s SSN and a different name, date of birth, and address, to obtain new bank or credit accounts for financial gain, or services such as utilities, phone, cellular, and Internet.
  • Children’s information is also used to commit non-financial identity theft, including obtaining fraudulent tax returns or government benefits, housing rental, employment, medical treatment, or evading criminal charges.

FACT: Lower income families are disproportionately affected by child identity fraud, with 50% of victims living in households with incomes under $35,000.

  • Of victims who were able to identify the perpetrators of these crimes, 36% found them to be family members, and an additional 35% were family friends.

FACT: Child identity fraud can be avoided. Check early and often.

  • Keep personal information like birth certificates and social security cards locked away and sensitive computer documents password protected. Use a cross-cut paper shredder before disposing of paper documents of this nature.
  • Teach children how to be safe online, particularly while visiting unsecured websites and using social media.

FACT: Federal law under the U.S. Fair Credit Reporting Act allows for the request of one free credit report per year.

  • If your child’s identity has been stolen, contact the three credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert, and then file the theft claim with the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Because a child’s SSN is often used as part of a synthetic identity, ask each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax (1-800-525-6285), Experian (1-888-397-3742) and TransUnion (childidtheft@transunion.com), for a manual search for your child’s credit report, based only on the child’s SSN.
  • Ask each agency for its mailing address, because you will need to provide a cover letter with proof that you are the child’s parent or legal guardian.
  • You may consider placing a credit freeze to prevent thieves from opening additional accounts under your child’s name.

For more information on how to combat child identity theft and learn preventative measures, visit the Identity Theft Assistance Center website.

 

Copyright © 2013 The Financial Services Roundtable, All rights reserved.

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