Because hackers have turned their eyes toward our kids, making them the number one target of identity theft.
According to a recent article in Hitched, kids identities are the fastest growing sector for theft, and because kids aren’t generally USING their own identities (not in the sense of a credit identity anyway), it can go unnoticed for years.
Just think, when was the last time you had to haul out your child’s social security number for anything? Besides our yearly tax filing, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used it since she was born, and each time I’ve had to pull out the card to check the digits. Where we as parents can keep close tabs on our credit card bills to monitor any odd spending, most kids don’t have bills coming to the house. Even kids’ savings accounts are less likely to be monitored by adults – chiefly because we don’t use them for anything other than holding money, which we’ll check in oh, about eighteen years when the first tuition bill arrives.
No wonder the FTC has found half a million child identities are stolen every year, a number they expect to rise. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, more than half of those children whose identities were corrupted were under the age of six. Late last year, a study from Javelin Strategy and Research estimated one
in twenty kids overall have been victimized. They’ve rung up an average of $12,000 in wrongly assigned debt.
Foster kids are a major target too. Shuttled in and out of homes, their most secret information is an open book shared with hundreds of adults, and not always the most trustworthy types. They’re also more likely to come out of homes where parents have fallen on hard times, parents who used their identity with the best of intentions. A mom who couldn’t get an electric company to allow her to open an account in her name, for example, uses her child’s name and social security number to try to keep lights on for the family. But when she can’t get a job and fails to pay the bills, the black marks grow on the child’s credit.
With the grim economic picture, that’s a factor that’s spreading to more and more homes. The economy is no doubt having an affect on the numbers of desperate people looking for a clean slate.
Makes you want to run out and order your child’s credit report, doesn’t it? You should. Hitched has a list of other tips to protect your kids here. Will you be making some changes?
Image: Dr Bulldog