Preventing an adult’s identity from being stolen is often hard enough, but what about detecting when a child’s ID has been pilfered? In terms of finances, young children are typically blank slates, identity security experts say, making them a tempting and vulnerable target for fraudsters. Identity breaches can range from the use of Social Security numbers by illegal immigrants or others for employment background checks to strangers or even family members opening lines of credit or setting accounts for utilities under stolen IDs.
There were more than 19,000 reports of ID theft from minors in 2011, up from about 6,000 in 2003, according to Federal Trade Commission data. Children make up about 10 percent of the 10,000 cases of identity theft the ITRC handles each year.
Identity theft against children is a huge issue, because it tends not to be discovered for a long period of time.
Credit monitoring firms have taken notice and started offering services to help protect families. Given how much our personal data is bandied about either by ourselves or the companies and government agencies we deal with, ID theft is sometimes only a mouse click or piece of stolen mail away. The longer fraud goes on, the harder they can be to fix.
Parents can check with the Social Security Administration once a year to see whether their child’s digits are being used by someone to obtain employment. Parents can also make requests in writing to the credit bureaus for a free copy of a child’s credit report, if the child is under 18, there shouldn’t be one.