Were you surprised the other day when I said that your children are highly attractive targets of identity thieves because they have untouched and unblemished credit records? Let me tell you just how easy it happens.
How Does It Happen?
All an identity thief needs to ruin your child’s bright financial future is her name and Social Security Number.
“Shouldn’t my child’s age show up on any credit background check, shouldn’t the merchant recognize that the person in front of them buying a car on credit isn’t seven years old?” you ask.
Yes, it should, but the people screening the credit report rarely give it the time and care necessary to detect fraud.
All too often, background checks involve simply matching the name and the Social Security Number provided. This leaves doors wide open for scandalous minds to wreak havoc on your child’s perfect credit. The most unsettling part is that the age of the applicant (in this case, the person posing as your child) becomes official with the credit bureaus upon the first credit application. This makes clearing a sabotaged credit record even more difficult because you have to prove to the credit bureau that your child is only seven and isn’t responsible for thousands of dollars of debt.
In no time at all, your child could have a maxed out credit card, unpaid bills and a huge mortgage for beachfront property across the country. You might not discover the illegal purchases until your child opens a bank account, applies for a job, tries to get a driver’s license or enters college. At that point, you are left with the time-consuming dilemma of cleaning up someone else’s fraudulent mess. If only clearing up a credit report was as easy as cleaning up after your kids.
Do the gaping holes in our current credit system and the audacity of criminals leave you enraged? Me too. And it is imperative that you use your anger as fuel to protect and prepare your children’s future before it is too late.
Child Identity theft is the fastest growing sector of the identity theft “industry,” and the numbers are staggering. Although it’s difficult to estimate exactly how many children lose their identities since the crime can go undetected for years, the FTC states that 5% of identity theft cases target children, which translates into 500,000 kidnapped child identities per year, and growing. The Identity Theft Resource Center discovered that in 54% of the cases, the child was under the age of six.
In my next blog, I’ll talk about Who Does This.