Protecting Your Child Against Identity Theft

April 8, 2015, Written By John H. Oldshue
Social Security Card

Stealing a child’s Social Security number is one of the biggest prizes for an identity thief. Children have no credit files and, since parents rarely suspect anything, these stolen numbers can normally be used for years.

A sad example of this is a 19-year-old girl who discovered her Social Security number had been used by thieves since she was nine years old. The thieves racked up $1.5 million in fraud.

Social Security numbers are likely stolen more from medical record breaches. After all, young children usually don’t have credit card accounts or, in most cases, even know their Social Security numbers yet. Almost half of the data breaches in 2014 took place in medical databases.

The breach in December of the Anthem insurance database, where over 80 million people had their social security numbers stolen, may well cause a surge in attempts at child identity theft. An expert with Experian has estimated that 24 million children may now be at risk just from the Anthem breach alone.

AllClear ID, a credit monitoring service, did an extensive study with nearly 27,000 children on Child ID Theft in 2012 and found some very concerning numbers:

* 10.7% of children had someone else using their Social Security number.

* The rate of identity theft for children was 35 times higher than the rate for adults in the same population.

* 15% of victims discovered the theft at age five-years-old and younger, a percentage that doubled in a year.

* 26% of victims were six to ten-years-old, a percentage that is up by almost 7% from the previous year.

* Child identity thieves used their victims’ Social Security numbers to open credit cards and secure auto loans, student loans, mortgages and business lines of credit, among other things.

* One child had six different suspects using her Social Security number. Overall, the number of suspects per child increased by 15% versus the previous year.

One answer to the fear of child ID theft is a new free service from AllClear ID and TransUnion, one of the three major credit bureaus. They have partnered to deliver ChildScan, a free, child identity theft report.

ChildScan actively scans databases to find out if thieves are using your child’s Social Security number. If fraud is detected, AllClear Investigators conduct a full inquiry and completely repair your child’s identity.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of April 8, 2015. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.