Posts Tagged: ‘child identity theft’

Scam of the day – September 29, 2014 – Child identity theft

September 28, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Last week, Florida became the latest state to enact a law to help combat identity theft of children’s identities.  The new law has the clever acronym of KIDS, which stands for the Keeping ID Safe act.  Under this law, parents of minors are able to open a file with each of the major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian and then immediately freeze the accounts so that even if an identity thief managed to obtain the child’s Social Security number and other personal information, the identity thief would not be able to access the credit report for purposes of running up large debts using the credit of the child, who generally does not become aware that his or her identity has been stolen until he or she reaches older teen years when he or she might first apply for a car loan or financial aid for college.  Identity theft of children’s identities is a huge national problem.  According to a study by the Carnegie Mellon CyLab, children are more than 51 times more likely to become a victim of identity theft than adults.

TIPS

If you live in one of the states that has a law such as Florida’s, take advantage of the law, set up a credit report for your children and immediately freeze the account. And while you are at it, you should also freeze your own credit reports as your best precaution against identity theft.  If your state does not have such a law, let your state legislators know that you want them to pass such a law.  I am proposing such a law in my own home state.  As much as possible try to limit the places that have your child’s Social Security number and become familiar with the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act which helps you protect the privacy of your child’s school records and lets you opt out of information sharing by the school with third parties.  Finally, the security company AllClear ID (www.allclearid.com) provides a free service called ChildScan which not only searches credit records tied to your child’s Social Security number, but also checks employment records, criminal records and medical records to recognize at an early stage if your child has become a victim of identity theft.

Scam of the day – January 3, 2014 – Child identity theft update

January 3, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Two days ago, Texas became the latest state to pass a law protecting children from identity theft.  The law is patterned after a Maryland law that became effective a year ago and was the first of its kind in the country.  The Texas law will permit parents of children under the age of sixteen to freeze their children’s credit reports with the major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.   This is important because in recent years, children have been a prime target of identity thieves who, if they are able to get identifying information on a child such as the child’s Social Security number, can open a credit report on behalf of the child and obtain credit in the child’s name.  The identity thief never pays back the money accessed through the child’s credit and the child is burdened with a bad credit report that can have a deleterious effect on the child when he or she applies for credit, applies for a job, applies for a scholarship or applies for an apartment.  Presently the major credit reporting agencies have not permitted credit reports to be frozen until there is an active credit report.  In the circumstances of a child, this would occur only after the child’s credit had been accessed and abused so it truly would be closing the barn door after the horses are out.

TIPS

Credit freezes are a great way for all of us to protect ourselves from identity theft even in the event that someone has access to your Social Security number.  You can find out more about credit freezes in my book “50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age.”  You can also find the laws about credit freezes in your own particular state by going to this link:   http://www.consumersunion.org/campaigns/learn_more/003484indiv.html

Scam of the day – January 3, 2013 – Maryland child identity theft law

January 3, 2013 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

It is always a pleasure for me when I can report to you about something positive in the world of identity theft and scams.  Today is one of those days.  A new law in Maryland became effective two days ago that is the first of its kind in the country and, hopefully, will be a model for the rest of the states.  The new law will permit parents of children under the age of sixteen to freeze their children’s credit reports with the major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.   This is important because in recent years, children have been a prime target of identity thieves who, if they are able to get identifying information on a child such as the child’s Social Security number, can open a credit report on behalf of the child and obtain credit in the child’s name.  The identity thief never pays back the money accessed through the child’s credit and the child is burdened with a bad credit report that can have a deleterious effect on the child when he or she applies for credit, applies for a job, applies for a scholarship or applies for an apartment.  Presently the major credit reporting agencies have not permitted credit reports to be frozen until there is an active credit report.  In the circumstances of a child, this would occur only after the child’s credit had been accessed and abused so it truly would be closing the barn door after the horses are out.

TIPS

Credit freezes are a great way to protect yourself from identity theft even in the event that someone has access to your Social Security number.  You can find out more about credit freezes in my book “50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age.”  You can also find the laws about credit freezes in your own particular state by going to this link:   http://www.consumersunion.org/campaigns/learn_more/003484indiv.html

Scam of the day – September 9, 2012 – Identity theft risks of school children

September 9, 2012 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Young children have become prime targets of identity thieves because the law requires children to have Social Security numbers, yet they rarely are involved with credit.  An identity thief who is able to obtain a child’s name and Social Security number can leverage that information into identity theft and obtain credit as well as  make large purchases while ruining the credit of the child who may not be aware that the crime has occurred until the child is much older and applies for financial aid, a car loan or some other financial transaction.  Often the perpetrators of this crime are family members, baby sitters or others who may have easy access to the child’s information.  Other times personal information gathered about your child by his or her school or an extracurricular program such as sports or music becomes the source of the problem if they do not properly protect the security of your child’s information.

TIPS

Guard your child’s Social Security number at home.  Keep any documents with the number on them locked in a secure location.  Find out from your child’s school or other organization that is gathering such information what they are doing to protect that information as well as with whom they share that information.  Federal law requires schools to notify parents about the school’s directory information policy and to offer families the right to opt out of the release of any data on their child to third parties.