A 2003 survey by the Federal Trade Commission found that nearly 10 million people had been the victims of identity theft. Of this 4% of them were under the age of 18 which was up from 2% in 2002.
Stealing the identity of a minor is ultimate glory to a thief. The reason being, it takes longer,normally, for someone to find out about the theft and by then it will definitely be to late. Most minors don’t discover that they are the victims of identity theft until they are 18 or 19 and try to open an account for themselves.
There are some precautionary measures that can help but one must stay ever vigilant in protecting their personal information:
1. Teach children about privacy. Teach them to never give out their social security numbers, account information, or other data that is of a sensitive nature. It is no different than teaching them to keep their personal items safe from thieves.
2. Ask Who, What, Why. Never give out your child’s social security number to anyone without knowing who they are, why they need it, and what will they do to protect the information. The same goes for their birth certificate. If it is ever needed secure a copy from the vital records department and never let anyone have the original. Keep it in a safe place.
3. Never carry or allow children to carry social security cards. Keep them at home in a safe place. If your insurance cards reveal social security numbers you should blacken-out the number.
4. Watch for offers of pre-approved credit arriving in your child’s name. Watch for collection notices as well. Monitor all account statements that are in your child’s name as well as those in your own name.
5.Change their pin numbers and names from time to time on their computers,laptops, and cell phones. Never use just names for passwords or pins. If a school wants to use the social security number of your child for an identification number ask them for an alternative method.
6. You should also consider checking your children’s credit file. Everyone is entitled to a copy or their credit report from each of the credit bureaus every year. If their is nothing to report that is goods then you know no one has used the information. However, sometimes thieves do something like make a minor change in the birth date to make it harder to find. If you find a problem the work with one of the credit bureaus.
If you have problems Trans Union will ask that you send in a copy of the child’s birth certificate and work with their juvenile theft employees. If your child’s identity has been stolen trans Union will suppress the file to indicate it belongs to a minor and prevent fraudulent activity.
Always remember that the safe-keeping of documents is key to identity protection. Most children’s identities are stolen by family members. So, keep this in mind when you let Uncle Harvey have access to your personal documents and information.