Info Sheet – Child Identity Theft 

This information sheet is for parents and legal guardians of someone under the age of 18 who may be experiencing identity theft.

What is Child Identity Theft?

Child identity theft occurs when the personal identifying information (most commonly a Social Security number) of someone under the age of 18 is used by an imposter for financial gain or to avoid criminal prosecution. The imposter could be a stranger, someone who knows the family or even a family member.

Minors can’t legally acquire credit, take out loans, or have a bank account without a parent or guardian co-signing.  What this effectively means for an identity thief is if they are able to acquire a child’s personal identifying information, they’re far more likely to have an extended period of time where they can use the information without it being noticed.

Identity thieves use minor children’s information in the same ways an adult’s information can be used.  Creditors, the credit reporting agencies, and government agencies do not know how old someone is just by their Social Security number. All they can see is the number, the credit history, and a name.

RED FLAGS
Indicators of possible child identity theft are:

  • Calls from collection agencies regarding bills or credit cards in your child’s name.
  • Your child’s name appearing on caller ID (indicating that someone may be using your child’s information to establish an account).
  • Your child’s personal documents (Social Security Card, birth certificate, etc.) are stolen or missing.
  • Your child gets a notice about a warrant for a traffic violation or for taxes owed.
  • Your child is denied government assistance or medical insurance because income or benefits have already been assigned to the child’s Social Security number. You might also be told they want to verify employment for a job where the child has never worked.
  • A notice from the IRS that your child’s name and/or Social Security number is already listed on another tax return (if the person claiming your child is NOT a parent or legal guardian).
  • Receiving a pre-approved credit card offer in your child’s name.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Do not carry your child’s Social Security Card or papers with this number unless necessary.
  • Think twice before providing your child’s Social Security number. You do not need to provide your child’s SSN to enroll your child in school or for your child to attend school nor do you need to provide your child’s Social Security number at a doctor’s office.
  • Shred all papers that contain your child’s personal information with a cross-cut shredder.
  • Consider obtaining a state identification card for your child at your state’s licensing office and/or consider obtaining a passport for your child. A verified form of identification is not only useful, and sometimes necessary, for travel, it can also prevent a thief from falsifying a state ID or passport using your child’s stolen information.  Keep in mind there will be fees associated with obtaining these documents and you’ll have to safeguard the documents to prevent them from being stolen or misused.
  • Parents/legal guardians should strongly consider freezing their children’s credit with the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) because it’s one of the best proactive measures they can take to protect them. It’s important that parents/legal guardians check and make sure there is no credit file already associated with their child’s information. Children shouldn’t have a credit report, and if one is discovered, parents/legal guardians should immediately contact us for assistance in reclaiming their children’s identity. If there is no file associated with their child, parents can have one created by the CRA and then immediately frozen. It’s also worth noting that parents or legal guardians need to safeguard the PIN that each credit reporting agency assigns to them.

Shared Custody and Claiming Children on Taxes

In most cases, a parent or legal guardian fraudulently claiming a child on a tax return is a civil matter to be handled by the courts and/or with the assistance of an attorney and is not considered identity theft. You can review the IRS Publication 501, Exemptions for Dependents for more information.

This info sheet should not be used in lieu of legal advice. Any requests to reproduce this material, other than by individual victims for their own use, should be directed to itrc@idtheftcenter.org. Copyright, Identity Theft Resource Center®, all rights reserved.

Accounting & Finance Manager

Classification: Non-Exempt/Hourly

Employment Status: Regular, Full-Time

Reports To: Vice President of Operations

 

About Identity Theft Resource Center:

The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) is a non-profit organization established to support victims of identity theft and cybercrime in resolving their cases, and to broaden public education and awareness in the understanding of identity theft, data breaches, cybersecurity, scams/fraud and privacy issues.

ITRC serves as a relevant national resource on consumer issues related to cybersecurity, data breaches, fraud, scams and other issues.

Position Summary:

Reporting to the Vice President of Operations, and serving as an integral member of the management team, the Finance Manager will be responsible for developing and maintaining efficient and effective financial operations, overseeing day-to-day bookkeeping responsibilities, preparing various financial statements for the organization, and ensuring that appropriate policies, procedures and internal controls are maintained to safeguard the organization and facilitate effective non-profit financial management.

Primary Roles and Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable
  • Month-end and year-end closing.
  • Preparation of quarterly financial reports for the board of directors and monthly financial reports for Executive Team.
  • Preparation of depreciation schedules and allocation schedules for expenses.
  • Preparation of audit materials and coordination with CPA during annual audit process.
  • Updating, creating, and implementing fiscal policies and procedures.
  • Reviewing grant budget spends and tracking grant income and expenditures against approved grant budgets to ensure continued compliance with approved budgets and applicable federal grant regulations.

 

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Accounting/Finance with three to five years of experience in nonprofit accounting/finance
  • Demonstrable knowledge of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Nonprofit Accounting Standards.
  • Licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) a plus.
  • Demonstrated excellence in organizational, managerial, and communication skills.
  • Knowledge of Microsoft Office programs and Adobe programs and accounting software.
  • Ability to work occasional evenings and weekends as required.
  • Commitment to the mission, vision, and values of ITRC.

Attitudes, behaviors, and traits:

  • Accountability for results.
  • Strong work ethic with an orientation towards constant innovation and process development.
  • Detail oriented, efficient, and accurate.
  • Ability to balance and prioritize tasks and projects.
  • Professional, effective communicator.
  • Proven team player; ability to collaborate and engage all internal/external stakeholders.

 

Compensation:

ITRC provides medical insurance as well as paid leave and holidays. The annual salary for this position is $60,000.

 

To Apply:

Please submit your resume and cover letter as a single document to mona@idtheftcenter.org.  Writing samples and reference letters encouraged.  Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. No phone calls, walk-ins or recruiters, please.

ITRC provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, gender, sex, gender identity or expression, age, medical condition, sexual orientation, marital status, citizenship, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, genetic information, veteran status, military status, caregiver status or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local laws.

Identity Theft Resource Center Predicts 2014 Identity Theft Climate for Tax Season and Beyond

For the last fourteen years, identity theft has been the number one reported complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) according to their annual report titled the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. Javelin Strategy & Research has produced yearly studies, titled Identity Fraud Report, showing that the number of identity fraud victims increased from 10.2 million Americans in 2010 to 13.1 million in 2013.

This Research Says NO.

As the public has become more aware of scams and fraud, cybercriminals have had to up their game. Gone are the old Nigerian prince emails that tricked consumers into handing over their financial account information; instead, experts are now seeing phishing attempts that target businesses of every size and industry, and they do so by looking like the real deal.

One tech research firm KnowBe4 sent out “phishing tests” to see how individuals and businesses were likely to respond. Their most alarming finding may be this: the most successful phishing email contained a subject line that said, “Official Data Breach Notification.”
That email enticed more employees to open and follow through with the instructions than any other attempt subject line. What would prompt employees to put their companies at risk?

First, the change in notification laws allows companies who’ve suffered a data breach to email their victims instead of taking the time and expense to use the postal system. Just a few years ago, an emailed notification would have been easy to spot as a scam, but now, it could be legitimate. Also, where older phishing attempts were trying to cast a wide net and hope that someone fell for it—addressing recipients as “Dear Blessed Sir or Madam,” for example—targeted phishing attacks against businesses look very specific to that particular company or even to a specific employee.

Your company can invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in cybersecurity, but it takes only one employee opening a phishing email and downloading malicious software to bypass all of those measures and compromise your data. That’s why it’s crucial to spend focused time on training employees at every level of the company, from the custodial staff to the executives. Anyone can be targeted and can respond to an email, so having a company-wide policy on how to interact with unsolicited information can help prevent data breaches, ransomware attacks, and other crimes.


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 advancements in how we file have made the process a little less painful, but have also left the door wide open for hackers, scammers, and identity thieves.

Filing your taxes is probably pretty low on your list of favorite activities, wedged somewhere between dentist appointments and changing a tire on the side of the road. But it’s not really the arduous chore it used to be.

There are a number of tips to keep in mind as you file your state and federal taxes. These suggestions are meant to protect your data when you file, but can also work to secure your refund if your information has been compromised in the past.

1. Filing early

Complete your tax return and off your to-do list as soon as you can. Not only will you sleep a little better knowing it is finished, but you stand a better chance of beating a thief to your refund. Tax return fraud has grown exponentially in the past few years, in part due to the abundance of stolen identities available for sale online, so the best way to prevent it is to get your return filed before a thief can do it for you.

2. Knowing your preparer

Whether you use a walk-in tax preparer or have an accountant who handles your returns, ask questions about who can see your data and where it ends up. Keep in mind that a number of identity theft rings that have been broken up over the years were using tax prep services as a “front” for their real business. If you let someone else handle your sensitive documents, make sure they have a solid, long-standing reputation, and make sure you ask serious questions about where your information will be stored.

3. Filing yourself

If you handle your own taxes, you still have to watch out and secure your information. How? By making sure that the return itself is safe. If you prefer paper-and-pen forms that you’ll send through the mail, do NOT mail it from your curbside home mailbox. Drop it in a blue postal service box, or even better, take it to the counter of your local post office. If you file online, make sure you’re only doing so over secured wifi—as in, not your local coffee shop’s public wifi connection—and look for the HTTPS designation at the front of the IRS’ web address.

4. Remembering that your state taxes are under attack, too

If you’ve been a victim of identity theft or tax return fraud, or if you’re just concerned that it could happen to you, don’t overlook state return fraud. We tend to think of the IRS refund as the major payout and it usually is, but the potential for fraud at the state level is just as likely. In fact, since scammers can file returns using your information in multiple states, it may be an even bigger problem than people realize. Get your state return filed as soon as you can, and be on the lookout for notifications that there’s an issue with your return in a state you’ve never even visited, let alone worked in.

5. Destroying it!

With all of the new advancements, it’s easy to overlook the good old-fashioned tools of the identity theft trade. Shred any documents or receipts that you will no longer need in connection with your tax return, and keep a close eye on your mailbox so your necessary tax forms don’t wander off. If you don’t receive your forms in a timely way, it’s possible they were stolen, so check with the sender to confirm that they had been sent.

 

Watch the Free Webinar hosted by the ITRC & FTC 

Hosted by the Identity Theft Resource Center and the Federal Trade Commission, this webinar will discuss the warning signs of tax identity theft, how tax identity theft happens, common scams related to taxes, and what to do if you become a victim.

Click here to download a copy of the Tax Identity Theft Webinar presentation.


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.

As part of our mission as a non-profit service organization, the Identity Theft Resource Center maintains a website and toll-free call center that allows individuals to reach out for help 24-hours a day, seven days a week. By keeping accurate records of the types of issues consumers contact the ITRC about, our organization can present a clearer picture of the types of identity theft that are most common and most harmful.

While still only a small portion of the calls to the ITRC—at around ten percent of the call volume in November—involve child identity theft, 2014 was particularly alarming due to the 300% increase in inquiries and reports over
the course of the year. In fact, child identity theft reports nearly doubled from January to February, and almost tripled from January to November.

What is child identity theft?

A child’s identity is stolen when someone uses their personally identifiable information to open accounts or make purchases under that identity. Long-term lines of credit are especially problematic since most parents don’t think to check their children’s credit reports until they’re applying for financial aid. This oversight—which stems from not thinking their children’s identities are in danger, and not any kind of negligence—is what makes child identity theft especially alluring to a thief.

There are two fairly common approaches a thief takes when stealing a child’s identity.

  1. A stranger accesses information on your child, such as through school records or a medical office. It’s a good idea to make sure no one has your child’s Social Security number unless it’s absolutely necessary. School forms and doctor’s office paperwork will request it, but you are not required to share it as it’s a violation of Social Security regulations to use the number as an identification number. In this type of situation, a thief is usually after a large block of identities, such as when employees at a school system in Florida stole the Social Security numbers and information on approximately four hundred students. They could use the data themselves, or make a profit by selling it.
  2. The other—and sadly, more common type of child identity theft occurs when a family member, sometimes even a parent, fraudulently uses a child’s data to open accounts, take out a loan, apply for benefits, or more. This type of child identity theft is especially upsetting because it means having to involve the authorities against a family member, someone who was close enough to the family to have access to the child’s documentation. It’s fairly typical that family members who steal a child’s identity are doing so because they’re already in dire financial straits, and have had to resort to obtaining money or credit through fraud. No one likes to think of calling the police against a family member who’s already struggling.

Unfortunately, just as with all forms of identity theft, that police report is the first vital step. Without it, it’s nearly impossible to claim there was a crime. Some families may be tempted to “work out a solution” and let the relative pay off the credit that was opened in the child’s name, but if someone has used the child’s identity to gain government benefits, to commit medical fraud, or to engage in some other kind of criminal activity, that cannot be swept under the rug. A car purchased in your child’s name can be paid off, but fraud can scar your child’s credit permanently and result in an inability for your child to apply for college financial aid, government benefits, or healthcare down the road.

How do you know if your child’s identity has been stolen? First, if you’re alerted to a data breach such as the one that took place in Florida, you’ll need to begin monitoring your child’s credit report. Second, if you have reason to believe someone close to you accessed the records, or if you begin receiving collections notices, bills you’re not familiar with, or if your child receives claims benefits statements, that should be a huge red flag that something’s not right with your child’s identity. You can even place a freeze on your child’s credit report if you suspect a problem, but keep in mind that unfreezing it is a mildly time consuming process that will need to be done well before applying for loans.

 

If you suspect that your child’s identity has been compromised, or you just want more information about this type of identity theft, please call our 24/7 toll-free call center at 888-400-5530, or review our solutions and fact sheets on the ITRC website.

ITRC is proud to announce the launch of its AnyOnenationwide fundraising campaign. Due to a recent increase in consumer demand for ITRC services, the ITRC is requesting support from the public so that it may continue to provide its free services. This increase seems to be a result of heightened awareness and concern over data breaches and tax identity fraud as well as a heightened need for understanding identity theft and related issues.

“In the beginning of 2014, we read about tens of millions of Americans whose identities and personal information had been put at risk because of the malicious actions of people who committed crimes against large retailers and the individuals who shopped there.  It is a story we’ve heard all too often. But, there is hope,” said James Lee, ITRC Chairman of the Board. “The people who make up the Identity Theft Resource Center are passionate about helping individuals who find their trust has been violated by identity thieves.  Their confidence in commerce has been shaken and often their lives interrupted because their most precious possessions – their identity and reputation – have been damaged” Lee added.

Since 1999, the ITRC has been providing victim assistance and consumer education all at no cost to the general public.  With identity theft identified as the number one consumer complaint reported to the Federal Trade Commission for the last 14 years, it is obvious that the problem of identity theft is far from being resolved and is, in fact, growing.

While there are many paid services available to consumers, the ITRC is the only organization which offers one-on-one victim and consumer advice and information for free. The AnyOne3 campaign is a chance for the public to be sure these services do not disappear. The campaign will launch on April 3rd 2014 and run until June 13th, 2014.  The goal of the campaign is to raise $100,000.00 for the organization to continue its services to the public. Anyone can spread the word and donate by visiting http://www.idtheftcenter.org/anyone-3.html.

“Identity theft, privacy issues, data breaches and cyber security cannot be considered fringe issues that only affect a limited number of people,” said Eva Velasquez, CEO of the ITRC.  “With one new victim of identity theft every three seconds, and more than 600 data breaches reported last year, it is critical that the ITRC continues to be available to assist victims and inform consumers.  We need financial support in order to ensure we are here to help future identity theft victims.” Velasquez added.

About the ITRC

The Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC) is a nationally recognized 501(c)3 charity established to support victims of identity theft in resolving their cases, and to broaden public education and awareness in the understanding of identity theft.  Visit www.idtheftcenter.org.  Victims may contact the ITRC at 888-400-5530.

Contact

Nikki Junker, Communications Manager
Nikki@idtheftcenter.org  858-444-3287

Identity theft is bad enough. When it happens to a child, it can be even worse.  Children are an especially vulnerable population to identity thieves, who consider a child’s personal identifying information (PII) more valuable than that of an adult.  Why is this you ask? It’s all a matter of usage.

As an adult, you’re more likely to be keeping tabs on your information, such as your credit reports, activity, and history, because you most likely make use of your credit acquisition ability somewhat regularly. You monitor bank statements, pay bills, shop with your credit cards, all of these things that are uniquely adult. 

A child has NO legitimate usage for their SSN in terms of finances.  They aren’t old enough to legally acquire credit, or take out loans, or even have a bank account without a parent or guardian co-signing.  What this effectively means for an identity thief is if they are able to acquire a child’s PII, they’re far more likely to have an extended period of time where they can use the information without it being picked up on by the information’s actual owner.  Whereas an adult might notice within a month that for some odd reason their credit score has dropped or the loan they were applying for was denied, most of us wouldn’t think to do this same sort of checking on a child’s information because, after all, they can’t get credit anyways…right?

The truth is that there’s no way for a lender to check on the age attached to an SSN.  All they can see is the number, the credit history, and a name.  If someone is able to successfully forge documentation and has all the right information, they will be able to acquire credit, even if the SSN is supposed to belong to a minor.  And here’s the really tricky part – by attempting to be proactive and check your child’s credit in advance, you may actually be doing more harm than good.

A person under the age of 18 who’s not a victim of identity theft will have no credit file. No credit report, no credit history, nothing. Nada.  An overly eager parent, by requesting a report, may inadvertently create one, thus making it even easier for a potential thief to take advantage.  Usually, if your child is being victimized you’ll begin receiving pre-approved credit offers for your child in the mail or other types of marketing (think store catalogs or promotional offers).  Receiving curious mailers is usually a strong indication that someone has used your child’s name and SSN to request lines of credit. If you have reason to suspect your child might be a victim of identity theft, you should take the following steps:

Write to the three Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs) to see if there are credit reports in that child’s Social Security Number. The best news would be an answer of “there is no report.”

When you write to the agencies, place the following items in your cover letter:

  • Child’s full name
  • Child’s Social Security Number
  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your relationship to the child or children in question
  • Request for a search for a credit report in the child’s Social Security Number. Remember- the imposter may be using a different name and most definitely a different birth date.
  • A copy of the credit report, if one exists, be mailed to you immediately

NOTE: A flag may be placed on the report or the report can be suppressed, if a report exists.

Please note, all correspondence must be sent certified, return receipt request. This is the only way you can prove that you sent the information. You should also include any documentation showing that you have legal custody of the child if you are divorced or have legal guardianship of the child.

Wisconsin has become one of the latest states to contemplate a child identity theft law designed to help parents and guardians protect children’s credit. Assembly Bill 248 is similar to Maryland’s child identity theft law in that it allows a parent or guardian to freeze a child’s credit if they have a credit report. Should the child not have a credit record, AB 248 would allow a parent or guardian to request that a credit record be created in their child’s name so that they can then freeze the record.

Children are coveted targets for identity thieves because their credit records are a blank slate. Credit reporting agencies do not create credit records for people until they apply for credit.  Credit reporting agencies do not verify a credit applicant’s age when receive a request for a credit record. Thus, the first

time a credit application is submitted to a credit reporting agency, the age the applicant puts down is accepted at face value. From that point on, the credit reporting agency now associates that fake age with the child’s Social Security number. This means that an identity thief can steal a child’s Social Security number, apply for credit and establish a fraudulent credit record for them, and continue to abuse the child’s identity until they finally discover the fraud when they first apply for credit, a school loan or for housing.

The effects of child identity theft can be devastating. By the time a child discovers they are a victim of identity theft they could be delinquent on mortgages, credit card debt and any other sort of financial agreement the identity thief entered into. This can result in the child having to defer attending college for years because they cannot qualify for student loans, delay moving out into their own housing because they do not pass credit checks the landlord will run, and delay obtaining their first credit card or other financial accounts due to their terrible credit. It can take years for a victim of child identity theft to restore their credit and identity, permanently setting them behind their peers as their life is put on hold while they deal with the fallout of identity theft.

This bill would help preserve a child’s credit by allowing the parent’s to create an authentic credit record for their child with the correct age and other information associated with their Social Security number and then freeze it so no credit can be obtained even when a criminal has obtained their Social Security number. AB 248 is currently being considered by the Wisconsin Assembly and recently had a public hearing on August 9, 2013. Child identity theft is a serious crime and we hope to see more states take legislative action to protect their children from identity thieves.

Wisconsin Child Identity Theft Bill” was written by Sam Imandoust, Esq. He serves as a legal analyst for the Identity Theft Resource Center. We welcome you to post/reprint the above article, as written, giving credit to the author and linking back to the original posting.