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Your Child's Identity: Stolen at Birth

What is Child Identity Theft?

Child identity theft is when a cybercriminal steals the identity of a child under the age of 18. It is easy for cybercriminals to use the child’s name, birth date, and social security number to open bank accounts, run up credit, use the created identity to even obtain a driver’s license, fill out employment applications, and loan applications for mortgages. These criminals don’t get questioned by the bank because they’ve been using this information from a clean slate and, to the banks, this does not look like suspicious activity to flag.

Child identity theft is extremely hard to pinpoint It usually is not detected until years later, when the child turns 18 and starts applying for college, student loans, credit cards, etc. In a study conducted by Javelin Strategy and Research, more than 1 million children had their identities stolen in 2017 alone1. Imagine believing your child will have a clean slate and can start fresh as an adult, only to find out that their social security number or credit has been stolen and used for the past 18 years of their life. It can be scary for not only your child, but as a parent not to know whether or not someone has been using your child’s identity to pose as them and live a life as your child for the last 18 years.

How do these con-artists attack?

In the eyes of an identity thief or fraudster, a clean slate is a golden one. Some cybercriminals create “synthetic identities” where they combine a child’s social security number with a different date of birth. Synthetic identity theft is said to be the fastest-growing financial crime in the U.S2. Having your social security number used as a part of Cybercriminal’s new synthetic identity and to open these lines of credit can effect you or your child years down the line.

Apart from the financial side, there are other complications that can arise from this malicious theft.

Someone could be using your child’s social security number, name, or birth date to obtain a driver’s license. Your child could have points on their license before they’re even old enough to start driver’s ed.

Not only could cybercriminals be using your child’s information and creating a new identity for themselves, but they could potentially be affecting how medical care is given in the state of an emergency. Medical identity theft is when a thief steals your information to obtain medical services. Someone could be using your child’s personal information associated with a synthetic identity within the healthcare system and could potentially have their own blood type, allergies, and medical history associated with your child’s name, which can be detrimental if an emergency occurs.

What to look for

The Federal Trade Commission suggests keeping an eye out for several signs that could mean your child’s identity has been stolen including2:

  • Being turned down for government benefits.
  • Getting notices from the IRS saying income taxes have not been paid, or that their Social Security number has been used on another form
  • Receiving collection calls or bills for services or products you did not purchase.

How to prevent child identity theft

  • Know where personal information is kept. If your child is in school, always make sure you know how their personal information is being stored and secured. Many thieves will try and steal information from unsecured school systems.
  • Be careful with your child’s social security number. Because the social security number can be used by thieves to steal parts of your identity, it is extremely important to share this number with as few people as possible.
  • Set up a joint bank account. Joint bank accounts give you, the parent, access to the account to view all activity as well as making sure no one can access it without your approval1.
  • Monitor mail for credit offers. A tell-tale sign of this type of identity theft is receiving credit offers in the mail. If this occurs, make sure to shred them to protect personal information and check your child’s credit report as soon as possible2.
  • Monitor social media accounts and email. There are many ways you can protect your child against the dangers of oversharing on social media (link to Identity Theft and Social Media Hazards) including keeping the passwords and monitoring how much personal information is being shared online as well as keeping an eye out for phishing emails with attached malware.
  • Safeguard your child’s identity with IDSeal’s Identity Theft Protection. Having an extra resource that has your back and can identify when your child’s personal information is being used is a necessary resource to have in today’s day and age. IDSeal monitors the dark web for information associated with their social security number, bank accounts in their name, medical records, as well as email, phone number, and social media.

If your child falls victim to identity theft, IDSeal comes prepared to have you work with a U.S.-based dedicated restoration specialist who will help restore your child’s identity. Sign up at www.idseal.com today!

 

 

Sources

  1. https://www.parents.com/kids/safety/tips/what-is-child-identity-theft/

  2. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0040-child-identity-theft

  3. https://www.cyberscoop.com/synthetic-identity-theft-stolen-fake-data/