How to Protect Children from Fraudsters
Identity thieves are interested in children’s identities because they are a blank slate; they don’t have a credit history. As a result, one out of 50 U.S. children are victims of identity fraud, with out-of-pocket expenses costing families nearly $1 billion annually.
Let’s look at the issue more closely and how you can help protect your children.
Child identity theft involves co-opting a minor’s personally identifiable information (PII), such as their Social Security number (SSN), to commit fraud. Children’s credit histories are clean slates and often remain unchecked for years, giving scammers ample time to commit fraud without being detected.
An identity thief can steal a legitimate SSN, add a different name, birth date, address and phone number, and start a new, fraudulent credit file. This process is known as synthetic identity theft.
Child identity theft can happen when a minor’s PII is misused by:
Children’s information is collected many places, including social media platforms, school systems and healthcare providers. Their smart devices, video games and mobile applications are also gathering their information. Given the rise of data breaches, kids’ identities are increasingly at risk of being exposed on the dark web and online forums where identities are illegally bought and sold.
“Child fullz,” the name fraudsters use to refer to a child’s complete stolen information package, can be easily found for sale on the dark web. These “fullz” include names, dates of birth, addresses and Social Security numbers. Each packaged identity starts at $10 each or can be purchased in bulk for even less.
Here are just a few ways criminals can misuse children’s Social Security numbers:
Child identity theft often goes unchecked and unnoticed for years, only to be discovered when your child starts to apply for loans or credit cards. Identity thieves use the child’s identity to take out new credit card accounts, obtain driver’s licenses, get a job and even buy homes and cars.
Warning signs that your child’s identity has been stolen:
Aside from the emotional stress of your child being a victim of identity theft, the financial damage can take years to repair. If you suspect your child has been the victim of identity theft:
Here are a few steps that you can take to protect yourself and your family against child identity theft:
IdentityForce’s award-winning ChildWatch makes it easy to ensure your children’s identities are protected. With an adult membership, you can cover all your children with top-rated identity theft protection.