Child identity theft a growing trend
An emerging crime trend impacting families today — and children tomorrow.
Last year, a tearful teen was seen on TV describing how she and three other juveniles were victimized by child identity theft. This Midwest teenager owed $750,000 for homes and automobiles that someone else had purchased in her name.
The theft of her information had occurred when she was 3 years old.
The crime is called child identity theft, and it’s a growing problem. An estimated one in every 40 households with young children is currently being impacted, ringing the alarm bell on a new need to prioritize and protect the sensitive information of every family member.
More from MSN Living: How dogs make our lives better
“Children are at 51 times greater risk of being targeted for identity theft than are adults, according to Carnegie Mellon University CyLab,” says Robert P. Chappell, Jr., a veteran of law enforcement and of the Armed Forces. Struck by the number of fraud cases involving child identity scams he was fielding after a tour of duty overseas, Chappell recently authored “Child Identity Theft: What Every Parent Needs To Know.”
“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.”
More from MSN Living: 15 amazing, inspiring baby nurseries
Identity thieves use other people’s information to open credit cards and bank accounts, apply for loans, get government benefits and run up obscene amounts of debt — and can escape all debtors because their own identity is masked. Kids make ideal targets because the have completely clean credit records, if any credit file at all.
Since it’s a crime of identity and not directly of cash or goods, families of every income level are susceptible. A 2012 report published by the Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC) indicated that lower-income households were disproportionately affected, with 50 percent of all child identity thefts affecting those with household incomes under $35,000, though a full 10 percent with incomes over $100,000 were affected as well. Disturbingly, “friendly fraud” — identity theft committed by a family member or friend — was to blame in 27 percent of reported cases.
Child identity fraud is hard to detect and difficult to resolve. According to the ITAC, the mean detection time for child ID frauds is nearly a year, while detection time for adult cases is under two months. A major concern is that the theft of a child’s identity can go undetected for years, not coming to light until the victim applies for his or her first job or tries to rent a first apartment — at which point the victim learns he or she is shackled with false debt and bad credit.
Robert Chappell recommends several preventive actions for parents and children. The first step is to obtain a free annual report from one of the three credit agencies. Though untangling oneself from the mess of a criminal’s fraudulent debt can be laborious and infuriating, each agency does have a resolution center and advice for safeguarding family identities (follow these links for TransUnion, Experian and Equifax).
• Don’t share your child’s Social Security number. When asked for it on school or medical forms, ask whether optional information can be substituted, or whether you can use just the last four SSN digits.
• Tell your children not to place his/her birth date or address on social networking sites.
• Register all family phone numbers on the Do Not Call List.
• Shred sensitive information. Don’t discard pages from bills, credit cards or bank statements with readable information.
• Educate your children on the risks of giving away personal information.
To learn more, visit the ITAC and Federal Trade Commission pages dedicated to combating child identity theft.
Photo: Child identity theft / George Diebold/Getty Images
Have your teens learn how they can check their credit; this is the federally mandated website rolled out during the GW Bush administration, not that crap you see on TV.
You get info from all 3 agencies, free once a year.
News, stories, tips and laughs for moms & dads
It can be difficult to entice little ones to eat anything at all, let alone to devour a healthy plate. But feeding your kids nutritious snacks after school just got way easier, thanks to these adorably clever and cute snack ideas! For more smart and fun ways to get your kids to enjoy healthful and delicious foods, try one of these amazingly artsy lunch ideas.
"Because you shine from within," I said, touching my finger to her heart. "Not everybody sees it, but I do. I see it. And my job is to protect that light. So when people say mean comments that squelch that light, I want you to tell me. I will protect your light by listening and loving you, my brave, courageous, and unique little firefly."
Studies have shown that it helps, top education officials have recommended it, and now doctors are officially saying the same.
I may have accidentally dropped you a few times, forgotten to document your first fart, let a little pee fly and dressed you like an idiot, but I have also loved you with every piece of me, and you will never hear an apology for that.
Back-to-school shopping is still in full swing, and your little gents probably need some new kicks to round out their fall wardrobes (you already picked up some bold shoes for the little ladies in your life, right?).
Not every kid is a fan of returning to the classroom, so parents try to ease the blow with a little back-to-school shopping.
Would you rather be a parent now or then?
As all the kids line up to go to school, your son, Timmy, turns to you and says, "I don't want to take the bus. My stomach hurts. Please don't make me go." You cringe and think, Here we go again. What should be a simple morning routine explodes into a daunting challenge.
The strong bonds that dogs can form are undeniable.
Think you know your pet’s every unspoken wish? Think again. Your pet is unlikely to be capable of communicating her wants and needs in ways you might assume she would. Even those of you most in touch with your pets' feelings are likely missing a few cues here and there.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever made both our readers' and veterinary professionals' lists of breeds that love the water.
You might proudly call yourself a dog owner, pet parent or canine guardian, but let’s be real: Your dog owns you. You might be laughing now, but think about it — you've surrendered the best seat on the sofa to him, you plan your entire weekend around his trips to the dog park, and you take him to the groomer more often than you get your own hair cut. And let's not forget who's in every photo on your Facebook and Instagram feeds. Sound familiar? We thought so. But in case you still think you're in charge, here are seven classic signs that your dog is the one calling the shots.