HAMILTON COUNTY (WISH) — Identity theft is an ongoing issue in the U.S., but now the bad guys are turning their focus to children. A recent survey by All Clear ID found one in 10 children were victims of identity theft and most have no idea.
“I think every parent should be concerned. Even if you’re not a parent and you’re thinking about having children, you still need to be concerned,” Lisa Small said.
For Small’s son, two-year-old Levi, his biggest burden is lining up his toy cars just right. But Small knows there are more serious issues that could put the breaks on his future financial status. A recent survey found children are actually 35 times more likely than adults to be identity theft victims.
There are some smart predators out there that if they know your address, your phone number, know your name or your kids names, they can piece all that stuff together,” Small said.
When a con-artist uses an adult’s credit card, it doesn’t take long for the victim to figure it out and put a stop to it. But for kids, a criminal could get up to 18 years of access to credit by creating what experts call a “synthetic identity”, which pairs the child’s social security number with a different birth date.
“That’s really what got me thinking you know I really need to do something for his protection,” Small said.
She has the power to do that. Indiana is one of 19 states that require credit reporting agencies to allow a parent or guardian to freeze their child’s credit file, which helps prevent identity theft. The Indiana Attorney General’s Office provides step-by-step instructions on how to freeze a child’s credit and how to report a crime. If you try to obtain a credit report for your child and are told that there is not one, that is good news. The identity theft resource center says that a credit report should not exist until that child’s first credit application as an adult.
“I had to send my information, his information, as far as his birth certificate, his social security number, I had to show that I was his guardian, I had to send my license and my info,” Small said.
She even took steps to receive monthly updates, alerting her of any unauthorized activity with her son’s information or lack there of.
“It was more time consuming than anything, but as a parent, it gave me peace of mind that I don’t have to worry and if I do, at least I’ll know,” Small said.
Unfortunately, many children don’t have parents pressing for protection like Levi. Researchers in 2012 found one out of four fraudulent uses of a child’s identity are committed by parents with bad credit looking for a fresh start.