All Clear ID, an identity protection company, scanned their database of 800,000 identity records of those enrolled in their service as a result of being notified of a data breach from 2009 to 2010. They identified 42,232 children 18 years and under in this database and 4,311 of the children were victims of identity theft. This was not a survey and the analysis is not scientific or considered predictive. The purpose is to show that children are also being targeted by ID thieves and the problems that result.
Children’s identity data is very attractive to identity thieves, because children are a blank slate. The thieves can assign names and dates of birth to the children’s information. In addition, the theft won’t be discovered for years, because children’s credit isn’t monitored. The main reasons for child identity theft are:
1. Illegal immigration – This information is used by illegal immigrants to obtain false identification to apply for a job.
2. Organized crime – It is used by organized crime to commit financial fraud, by opening accounts and obtaining credit cards.
3. Friends and family – This information is used to get credit because friends or family members have poor credit.
When the theft is discovered, it can impact the child in many ways such as: approval for student loans, ability to acquire a mobile phone, qualifying for loans and/or credit cards, securing employment, and renting an apartment. It can take years to correct what has been done.
4,311 or 10.2 percent of the children in the report had their Social Security number used by someone else, compared to .2 percent of adults, or 51 percent higher than the rate adults.
Children’s identities were used to purchase homes and cars; open credit card accounts; and obtain employment and driver’s licenses.
The largest fraud was $725,000 against a 16 year old girl; the youngest victim was five months old,
The breakdown by age of the 4,311 was as follows:
-303 or 7 percent of the children were 5 years old and under.
-826 or 19 percent of the children were 6 to 10 years.
-1212 or 28 percent of the children were 11 to 14 years old.
-1849 or 43 percent of the children were 15 to 18 years old.
-121 or 3 percent of the children had no age data.
Types of records involved in child identify theft cases (these total more than 4,311 because most were in multiple categories):
-Loan and credit accounts were 70 percent or 6,948 of the identity theft cases.
-Utility accounts were 18 percent or 1,797of the cases.
-Property- related accounts (mortgages, and foreclosures) were 5 percent or 537 of the cases.
-Drivers’ licenses were 4 percent or 415 of the cases.
–Vehicle registration was 2 percent or 235 of the cases.
Here are four tips from AllClear ID to help lesson your child from falling victim to fraud:
1. Watch for mail in your child’s name: If you begin receiving pre-approved credit cards or other unsolicited financial offers in your child’s name, it is an indicator that your child may have an open credit file.
2. Teach your child about identity theft and online safety: Talk to your child about the dangers of sharing personal data online. Make sure children understand the importance of keeping this data private.
3. Don’t make your child susceptible to “friendly” identity theft: Don’t ever use your child’s name to open utility or other credit accounts.
4. Protect your child’s personal information by keeping it locked up in your home, such as Social Security card.