Oct 192010
 
 October 19, 2010  Breaches, Youth & Schools

From the ITRC:

Fiction 1:  Child identity theft is a new crime.
Fact:  This egregious crime has been happening for decades.  Even before the IRS required that children be assigned a Social Security Number (SSN) for tax tracking purposes, people have stolen the identity of children to create a “new life” for themselves.

It is recognized by identity theft experts that children make excellent targets because the crime can go undetected for years, often until the child reaches legal age and applies for his or her first loan or credit card.  For years, the Identity Theft Resource Center has worked with hundreds of child identity theft cases annually.  As part of Protect Your Identity Week, ITRC would like to set the record straight when it comes to Child Identity Theft.

Fiction 2:  The best way to protect your children from identity theft is to check their credit reports annually.
Fact:  A child doesn’t have a credit report.  Credit reports begin with the first application for credit which is done when the child reaches legal adulthood at 18.  It would be like checking transcripts for a college you never attended.  By asking for credit reports annually or even more frequently, you can actually open a can of worms by establishing a credit report that is unwarranted in the case of a minor.  The only time to check for a child’s credit report is when there is evidence of identity theft or someone has opened credit using that child’s SSN.  If no credit report is found, it’s good news.

Fiction 3:  Companies know the age of a person based on the SSN.
Fact:  This is simply not true.  Currently, there is no way for a creditor, employer or credit reporting agency to know the age of the recipient of a newly issued SSN.  This is why the ITRC has proposed a Minor’s 17-10 Database to help creditors avoid issuing credit to minors.

Fiction 4:  Using the SSN of a child won’t harm that child.
Fact:  Yes, it will.  Typically child victims do not realize that crimes have been committed using their personal information until they themselves start to apply for loans, tenancy or employment.   Imagine the loss of a student loan, the inability to obtain a driver’s license or being denied employment.  These are all probable consequences of child identity theft.

Fiction 5:  Only strangers commit child identity theft.
Fact:  Parents and family members are often the perpetrators in child identity theft cases.  They have ready access to a child’s SSN and can easily “borrow” their child’s SSN.  This is a crime.

What can you do?

  • Avoid providing a child’s SSN unless it is for tax or state/federal benefit issues.
  • Ask questions before giving out a child’s SSN.
  • Don’t carry your child’s Social Security card in your wallet.

About the ITRC
The Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC) is a nationally recognized non-profit organization established to support victims of identity theft in resolving their cases, and to broaden public education and awareness in the understanding of identity theft.  Visit www.idtheftcenter.org.  Victims may contact the ITRC at 888-400-5530.

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