Many consumers are warned against the threat of identity theft and are advised to take all the necessary precautions to protect their personal information. But did you know that adults are not the only people are at risk? Yes, even children are threatened by the crime of ID theft.
In fact, according to Experian, an estimated 500,000 cases of identity theft among children are reported each year. If you are a parent, you should definitely be aware of this fact and take all preventive measures to safeguard your child’s personal information.
Your Childrens’ Social Security Number Is NOT SAFE
Just in the last year we have had 7 cases of ID theft come across our desk from clients seeking equipment leasing. Whenever I see a person well into their 40’s with a social security number only a few years old. I check to see if they are new to the US. If not I ask a few pointed questions to see how truthful they are about why they were just issued a social security number, that according to the credit bureaus belongs to a child.
Unfortunately, a lot of times the ID theft is by a parent. Its sad to see, especially when you see how trashed the credit score is already. That a parent has done this to a child. But its not only parents that steal their children’s identity.
Credit Profile Numbers – Big scam targeting children’s social security numbers
Many fraudulent companies selling credit profile numbers are actually stealing social security numbers from children and / or the elderly. CPN numbers are not illegal. They can be obtained legally, but they are not meant to provide people with alternative credit profiles meant to defraud.
Why are children and the elderly targeted?
Since a child wouldn’t be going out and looking for credit for a long time, its a safe bet that stealing their number will go unnoticed for several years. The same holds true for the elderly. Especially those in old age homes, have some form of dementia, and / or simply don’t use their credit anymore.
When you use them to obtain credit you are committing fraud. And there are lots of ways the credit reporting agencies can connect you back to your bad credit profile and merge the two of them together. They will also put an alert on your credit report letting lenders know you are using an alternative social security number.
If it doesn’t bother you that you may be using some child or elderly persons social security number. Know there can be a lot of trouble ahead for you when you start using a CPN from one of these fraud companies
- The credit bureaus will flag you
- You may be on the hook for identity theft and the police are after you
- The new creditors that you have built credit with may call all loans / credit due and demand repayment due to fraud.
How do these fraudsters get a hold of your childrens social security number?
Parents usually register SSN for their child and use this number for various purposes such as when applying for government benefits; obtaining medical coverage; investing on savings bonds; or opening a bank account for their child.
However, Social Security Numbers that belong to kids can be the perfect target for id thieves. Since children do not have credit history yet, it is much easier for them to use a child’s SSN on fraudulent activities without getting caught right away. If left unchecked, this can cause problems later on when your child is ready to open his/her own bank account or apply for a job. What can you do to prevent this from happening?
Consider the following tips on how you can protect your child’s identity:
Be cautious when providing your child’s SSN.
When applying for government services for your child or claiming tax deductions for your children, you will be asked to provide their SSN. However, you should always know how this information will be used before giving it to any company.
Shred unwanted documents that contain personal information.
Before discarding documents, see to it that these do not contain personal information about you or your child. If a document contains your child’s SSN or other personal details, shred it into bits before throwing them in the trash.
Sign up for identity theft protection service.
There are companies that offer monitoring services especially for children’s Social Security numbers. Signing up for such a program can help you become alerted in case someone uses your child’s SSN illegally. A great service that our family uses is LifeLock® . They monitor your credit and not only offer restoration services but will even replace money stolen from you due to ID theft (according to the plan you choose is how much they will replace). They also have services specifically to protect your children’s SSN.
Educate your child.
Parents should teach their children about identity theft and give them specific advice on how they can protect themselves, especially when using the internet. Many children today have their own accounts in Facebook, Twitter and other social networking websites.
Children should be aware that all the information they post online can be seen by anyone or hacked by identity thieves so they should be more careful about the things they post on the internet. Furthermore, kids should be advised not to reveal personal information to anyone without first asking their parents especially over the internet.
Report ID theft.
If you suspect that your child’s Social Security Number has been stolen or your child’s identity has been compromised, you should immediately file a complaint with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). You can do so online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft or over the phone through these numbers: 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338); or TTY—1-866-653-4261.