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Identity Theft of Children on Rise

April 15, 2011
Plain English Version

Photo by Greg Livaudais

Children are more likely to be victims of identity theft than adults. Ten percent of the children in a new study had their Social Security number stolen and in use by someone else. Only 0.2 percent of adults were targeted.

For example, a 17-year-old Arizona girl found herself $725,000 in debt, with 42 open accounts including mortgages, car loans and credit cards. In another, a 14-year-old Kentucky boy was found to have a credit report that went back 10 years that included a foreclosed mortgage.

Children are targets because they are not going to be using their identities for a long time. Parents do not watch their identities. Identity theft may not be discovered until the child applies for credit.

Parents should take precautions to protect their children’s identities.

  • Check for mail in the child’s name
  • Warn children about sharing personal information online
  • Put personal information in a safe place
  • Watch for pre-approved credit card offers in the child’s name
  • Look for a bank account in the child’s name that you did not open.

You can report any problems to a credit company, such as http://www.transunion.com/, which will start a credit search.

The New York Times


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