Children under five years old are the fastest growing victims of identity theft with a 105 percent increase over last year. That would be more than double ! You may be asking yourself why the increase?
Toddlers have become the newest and most popular target for criminals because they possess a "clean slate." Their credit is untouched and absent of negative marks.Their identities are not tied to consumer loans, credit cards, student loans, or other lines of credit.
After obtaining a stolen social security number, one way a criminal can carry out identity theft of a child is to "tie" it to a different name and birth date. If a parent does not check their child's credit until she turns 18 – which is what the ID Thief is hiring for – the thief will have had 10, 12 up to 17 years of freedom using that one stolen number. That means this crime can often go undetected for years! And because the theft is almost always perpetrated by criminal organizations outside the jurisdiction of the United States, the possibility of prosecution is almost nil.
Case in point:
In Utah, there was a break in the Health Department server in which thousands of social security numbers of children were exposed. The Utah Attorney General's office says because the thieves were outside the country, those cases could not be prosecuted. This case was brought to light after the mother of a 5-year-old boy found out that her son's number had been stolen and used since 2001!
Many parents are wondering what they can do to help protect their children's identity.
No one can prevent the theft of an identity, but here's a few techniques to make it difficult for a thief to target your child:
1). Pull a credit report on your child from all 3 credit bureaus. If you find out fraud has been committed, file a police report AND an Identity Theft Affidavit . Place an immediate "freeze" on the account.
2). Educate the importance not disclosing any personal information to anyone-online OR off. Also, if they are old enough, teach them about online privacy. Often times, online impostors will try to "bully" or coerce a child into giving up their social security number.
3). Monitor their online activities. I know, you want to be known as the "cool" parent. The difference of being cool or cautious could be catastrophic! You do not want to think back and say, "I shoulda, coulda or woulda."
4). Invest in a paper shredder, preferably a micro-cut unit.
5). And as always, update your internet browser and anti-virus software.
Be safe and stay informed.