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There was a time when child identity theft was thought of as a family problem, and it’s true that many cases over the years have been perpetrated by a custodial or non-custodial parent, a close relative, or even a family friend. Once the individual gained access to the child’s sensitive documents, they could open numerous lines of credit with the child’s “untarnished” credit record. In many cases, the identity thief may have been trying to get out of a dire financial situation, and fully intended to pay off any debt incurred in the child’s name; at the same time, some unscrupulous thieves didn’t care what consequences waited for the child down the road.

Too often, the children didn’t even know they’d been victimized until they reached adulthood and tried to use their legitimate credit.

In more recent years, though, hackers and identity thieves have begun targeting kids in order to take advantage of clean credit that no one will be monitoring for years to come. Schools, doctor’s offices, daycare centers, even school lunch computers have suffered data breaches intent on nabbing kids’ personal identifiable information.

According to Javelin Strategy and Research’s 2018 Child Identity Fraud Study, there were more than one million reported cases of child identity theft in the US last year, with the majority of those cases victimizing children under the age of eight. Another 20 percent of the victims were between the ages of eight and twelve.

Unfortunately, those are just the cases that were reported, which means the actual number of victims may be much higher.

But this new avenue of data breaches leading to identity theft doesn’t mean that parents can let their guards down about friends or relatives. The same Javelin study found that in 60 percent of the cases last year, the child knew their identity thief; that’s very different from the data point that says only 7 percent of adult victims know their identity thief.

One of the increasingly common methods of using children’s stolen credentials is to grab a Social Security number and combine it with a fake name, address, phone number, and more. Known as “synthetic identity theft,” the thief isn’t using the child’s complete identity, but rather has created a whole new person with this information. That makes it a little harder for victims and law enforcement to notice the problem in the first place or take action after the fact.

Concerned parents or guardians have a few steps they can take, though. If the child in question is over 14, they can request a credit report in the same way that any consumer does. Visiting annualcreditreport.com will provide the minor in question with a free credit report, and allow them to look it over for signs of suspicious activity. If the child is under the age of 14, the steps are a little harder. The adult must prove they have a right to access and see the information, but it’s a worthwhile step if there’s reason to believe a child’s identity may have been compromised.


Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

In the coming weeks, students across the country are going to experience a major shift in their lives, probably one that is unlike any other developmental milestone they’ve ever faced.

Come June, young people who’ve still had to follow curfews, dress codes, and rules about raising their hand for permission to use the bathroom will suddenly be considered adults.

Whether you’re heading to college or entering the workforce, your life may take a very sharp turn once you hit this milestone. It’s important to be prepared for some of the changes that may be coming your way, especially regarding your financial, medical, and personal identity.

Financial identity

You may have already had a job and a bank account, perhaps even a car loan, but once you finish high school, the dynamic can still shift a little. Your parents might have been joint account holders or co-signers; they may remain on your accounts or you may find yourself with your accounts to be responsible for. Understanding how your financial identity can be put at risk is crucial, especially if you’re going it alone.

Talk to your financial institution about building credit responsibly, but also about protecting your accounts. Your bank account, credit card, loans or any other financial dealings can be susceptible to takeover, and your identity can be used fraudulently to open new lines of credit or accounts. You need to know how to spot the signs of a problem and how to take action to correct it.

Medical identity

Again, this is a time when you may still be on your parents’ health insurance or when you’ll be relying on your own coverage to receive care. But your identifying information can also be used by a thief. If you suddenly receive medical bills or health insurance statements for treatments you never received, prescriptions that aren’t yours or any other related services—whether through your hometown doctor, your student health center or another healthcare provider—contact those offices immediately to report the problem.

Remember, it can be difficult to handle medical identity theft cases because HIPAA privacy laws still cover the person who used your identity. You may need to demonstrate that you were not the person who sought the care and that you are not responsible for any charges or legal fallout from the issue.

Personal Identity Theft

There are many different ways someone can steal and use your identity. New situations like moving into a dorm or apartment, filling out background checks to sign a lease or activate utilities, applying for colleges or jobs and other related scenarios can mean that your identifying information is now in a lot more places than it was when you were a kid. It’s time to understand how your information can be stolen, how to recognize if you might be a victim and what steps to take next. The Identity Theft Resource Center is a great place to start gathering information before a problem comes up, as well as an excellent resource to turn to if something goes wrong.

There’s one more thing to keep in mind as June approaches: if you’re filing a FAFSA application for financial aid to college or technical school, the deadline is June 30. Don’t wait until the last minute, though; if you discover that someone has already filed one in your name, you’ll need time to report the matter and file your legitimate FAFSA in order to avoid missing the opportunity for financial aid consideration. Get your application in quickly so you can have time to address any identity theft problems that possibly arise.


Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

New large-scale data breaches have impacted consumers, and new regulations about how we conduct our daily connected lives are on the horizon. A better understanding of

our connected devices has been revealed, as well as official concerns about foreign hacking.

These last few days of the year are a good time to make resolutions for the new year, and that includes security and privacy regulations. While you resolve to eat healthier or walk a few days a week after work, take the time to visit your personal identifiable information and launch some good habits for 2018, such as:

1. “I will secure my accounts.”

This one couldn’t be easier. All it takes it setting up a strong password that includes a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, a number or two, and a symbol, then making sure you only use that password on one account. Change it up—a little or a lot—on your other accounts to keep hackers out.

2. “I will update my accounts.”

Again, it doesn’t get easier than this. The first time you access a commonly used account next year, such as your email or your social media accounts, click “forgot my password.” Change that password to your new strong, unique password. Then, each time you use a not-so-common account during 2018, click that same “forgot my password” link and change it again. This way, you’ll be blocking hackers from using old login credentials that they purchased online or stole.

3. “I will protect my accounts with 2FA.”

This one is a little harder, but the payoff can be big. Setting up two-factor authentication on sensitive accounts like your online banking, mobile wallet, and email means you’ll have to provide two different forms of login information. It’s an extra layer of security that can keep a hacker or identity thief out of your accounts.

4. “I will monitor my accounts all year long.”

Keeping tabs with on your credit card and bank accounts takes only a few minutes of your time, but can help you stop suspicious activity in its tracks.Checking your credit reports is a little more involved, but worth it in the long run. Request your free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies once a year to watch out for anything that shouldn’t be there, then report it immediately.

5. “I will ask the hard questions.”

When it comes to handing over your information, it can be unnerving to ask the recipient how they plan to store the information, who will be able to access it, or why they even need it in the first place. Make 2018 the year that you stop and think before filling out that form or submitting that information online, and make smart choices about why the entities you do business with need it.


Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.