Safeguarding Kids’ Social Security Numbers to Prevent Identity Theft, Tarnished Credit

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More and more identity theft criminals are targeting children because young people naturally have good credit scores. In fact, nearly 400,000 kids get their identities stolen each year, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

In fact, federal authorities have warned about people with bad credit buying “credit profile numbers” or CPNs from businesses that use computers to locate and sell Social Security numbers issued to children.

Here is one eye-opening video that reminds parents it’s never too early to start protecting their children from identity theft criminals:

 

After all, thieves get away with it for years because most parents do not bother to check children’s credit scores.

Thieves can get the information in several ways — digging through your trash, hacking into your online personal records in wireless hotspots, or stealing the information from “trusted” resources. For example, infants are the perfect victim because thieves can steal medical records from your baby’s pediatrician’s office – by stealing hard copies or by hacking into the office’s networked computer files.

Cybercriminals are also moving to social networks, a new source ripe with potential victims. After all, these crooks can glean significant personal details from status updates, family blogs, photos, and any other information new parents might (over)share in those sleep-deprived first few months of new parenthood. (For example, tagging a photo of grandma holding a newborn immediately tips off a thief to your mother’s maiden name, a security question required on many online banking forms.)

The video above urges parents to “just say no!” to those who request their child’s Social Security number, or at least ask why it’s even necessary in the first place. In most instances, the Social Security number is not a requirement but just a simple request on a standard form.

Also, it’s never a good idea to share a child’s SSN online. (In fact, never share sensitive information about you or your kids when you’re in a WiFi hotspot unless you’re protected with a personal VPN.)

Unfortunately, the video says most kids won’t find out they are a victim for decades. Some find out when they go to get a driver’s license and – surprise! – the DMV tells them they have already had one for years.

That’s when the real nightmare will start for you (and your child’s future).

Finally, here is another short clip about a little boy seeking his first loan. He ultimately gets denied because a thief had previously stolen his identity:

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Filing a Case of Suspected ID Theft

If you need to report a suspected case of identity theft against your child, or if you feel any information has been misused, here is what the FTC recommends for consumers:

If you are concerned about safeguarding your family, visit the Identity Theft Resource Center’s website for more information, or call its hotline at (888) 400-553. Also, plug in your ZIP code on this website to search for identity theft complaints in your neighborhood.

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Elaine Rigoli

Elaine Rigoli is PRIVATE WiFi’s manager of digital content strategy.