Identify theft crimes are not going away any time soon. Actually, the identity theft criminals are becoming more creative as society slowly responds to the traditional identity theft schemes.
The latest identity fraud targets minors – our children. Specifically, our childrens’ social security numbers.
Selling social security numbers is a business, albeit an illegal one. It exists throughout the US. Buyers historically are individuals in the US illegally that need to be “legitimate” or those that have horrible credit and thus desire “new” credit. When you have demand for anything in our society, it won’t be long before there is a supplier. The same is true with the crime of identity theft.
Traditional identity theft occurs when someone obtains our name and social security number and uses these identifiers to fraudulently obtain credit. Until recently, the trend has been to target individuals that have established favorable credit.
Now, thieves are targeting children who have never been issued credit. In their eyes, what a better way to secure credit then to be a first-time applicant with a clean credit record. The record is clean because the individual is a minor. The problem is rooted in the fact that credit reporting agencies do not have any way to verify a credit applicant’s lawful age. What is reflected on a credit application for some granting credit is usually “good enough.”
What are we to do? Parents need to be as vigilant about their child’s social security number as they are their own. All US citizens are entitled to one free credit report on an annual basis from each for the three major credit reporting bureaus.
Until recently, most have never thought about attempting to secure credit reports for their minor children. We recommend that you obtain a credit report on your children annually. You do not want a credit report to exist as one shouldn’t until the child is an adult and lawfully has applied for credit. If your child has a credit report, chances are you have some work to do.
If you have questions about protecting your child’s identity or if your child has a credit report, contact our Litigation Advisory Services Group at 440-449-6800.