Now-a-days it’s not just about making sure your family is safe and secure in the physical realm, you also have to protect them in the digital one as well. Parents may find it hard to believe but their children are now at risk of adult credit woes due to the scourge of identity theft.
Enticed by children’s perfect credit, criminals are stealing children’s and teens’ names and social security numbers to make extravagant purchases or take out a home mortgage in another state. According to new reports, clever criminals are committing fraud against children on a grand scale.
A new report released by Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab entitled “Child Identity Theft: New Evidence Indicates Identity Thieves are Targeting Children for Unused Social Security Numbers,” found that more than 10% of children’s social security numbers were being used fraudulently.
The study also found that approximately 500,000 youths under the age of 18 are victims of identity theft. The largest financial damage totaled $725,000 to a 16-year-old girl, and the youngest victim was five months old.
“Because young adults and children have unscathed credit, they are becoming prime targets for identity theft and fraud,” a Credit Land representative said. “Criminals have easier access to children’s personal information through social networking sites and simple hacking methods.”
The study revealed pertinent information as to why it is important for parents to monitor their children for both personal safety and financial matters. Out of 42,000 child IDs scanned, over 4,000 were victims of identity theft.
The Identity Theft Council is a non-profit, grassroots organization that provides identity theft victims with free support and identity recovery assistance in their local communities. Their newest project is the Junior Counselor Program at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco, where more than 120 students are taking part in the program.
“The administration, faculty and staff at Abraham Lincoln High School are dedicated to providing enriching and innovative programs to our entire student body,” said school principal Barnaby Payne in a press release. “We are thrilled to be the first school to participate in the Identity Theft Council’s Junior Counselors program. We recognize the long-term and practical benefits that this type of awareness and training will provide to our students and to the community.”
Parents can do their best to protect their children from identity theft by installing proper anti-virus software, and being selective about giving out the child’s social security number. Parents can also check children’s credit reports to monitor for fraudulent activity and always shred any revealing personal documents before discarding.