Experts say Children are 51 Times More at Risk than Adults for ID Theft
Identity theft is a prominent issue in today’s world. While theft has been a societal problem for centuries, the modern form of theft is different because through digital data, thieves can easily steal a person’s entire identity.
A study conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research found that an identity is stolen every three seconds in the U.S. Not only that, but the ID thieves made off with $21 billion dollars. While adults are victims, what isn’t often realized is that children are frequently the victims of ID theft and the pilfering of identity isn’t often realized until years later; often when the children turn 18.
A Look at the Rise of Child ID Theft – A Growing Problem
Child ID theft is definitely becoming a big problem. Statistics in recent years indicate a child in one in every 40 homes becomes a victim.
“Children are at 51 times greater risk of being targeted for identity theft than are adults, according to Carnegie Mellon University CyLab,” said Robert P. Chappell, Jr., a veteran of law enforcement and of the Armed Forces. [PDF] Chappell is the author of a book entitled “Child Identity Theft: What Every Parent Needs to Know”.
Why are Child IDs so Attractive?
Children identities are a very attractive option for thieves because of the fact the theft typically goes undetected for a long period of time and children have a clean credit record. This gives the thieves a prime opportunity to use an identity they can hide behind. Especially those who are criminally minded and/or having trouble cleaning up their own financial messes.
Additionally, over the years, high debts could be accumulated and criminal offenses committed under a victimized child’s name. Then the victimized child ends up with a sketchy financial and employment history before he or she is even old enough to work. Since there is usually no reason to examine the credit history of children since they aren’t using it, and most won’t need their Social Security Numbers to collect benefits. It could be years or even decades before the theft is noticed.
“Children are targeted because criminals have learned that a child’s personal information is of value,” Chappell explains. “This personal information consists of their name, date of birth and Social Security number. Criminals understand that by stealing a child’s information they have a longer period to abuse the identity before being discovered.”
While 51 percent risk is a staggering number, some reports indicate the issue of Child ID theft has risen 300 percent in the last five years. Perhaps even more disturbing of a statistic is that many of the child victims have their identities stolen by 27 percent of the reported cases, noted statistics, according to the Identity Theft Assistance Center.
Usually, the identity theft ball gets rolling after a criminal swipes a child’s social security number. Once this information is obtained, the thief can commit all sorts of fraud. These days, parents need to heavily safeguard their child’s Social Security Number and pay close attention as the SSN is often requested by various businesses and organizations.
Joe Mason, an executive at Intersections Inc., a provider of consumer and corporate identity risk management services in Chantilly, Va. provides some parental advice in an interview with KVUE News, “First ask why the information is needed. Ask them how are they going to protect it and ask them, in the event the data is mismanaged or lost, or a fraud occurs in their organization, how are you going to be notified as a parent. If they can’t answer those questions to your satisfaction, chances are they don’t have a good security policy in place.”
Leigh has been writing on the web since 2007. She has a high interest in business, tech, higher education, and Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia travel, but loves to write about a variety of topics. In addition to writing on Writedge, she also runs a blog about the Washington DC Metro Area and a photography blog Photos by Leigh Goessl.