Posts Tagged: ‘child identity theft’

Scam of the day – October 2, 2016 – Another state enacts child identity theft law

October 2, 2016 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Ohio became the latest state to enact a law providing for credit freezes for children to protect against child identity theft. Unfortunately, less than half of the states provide this much needed protection of minors from identity theft.  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.  Often the identity theft is not discovered until years after it first happens which makes it more difficult to remedy.  A credit freeze is a tremendous tool for fighting identity theft because it prevents an identity thief who even has your Social Security number from accessing your credit report for purposes of establishing credit in your name. Unfortunately, the credit reporting agencies do not generally permit credit freezes for minors except in those states, such as Ohio that have required them to do so by law.

TIPS

If you live in Ohio and have minor children, you should contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion in order to freeze your child’s credit.  If you live in one of the other states that have similar laws, 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. For information about how to put a credit freeze on your own credit reports go to the Search This Website section of Scamicide at the top of the page and type in “credit freeze.”  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.  Parents should, as much as possible, try to limit the places that have their 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.

August 26, 2016 – Steve Weisman’s latest column for USA Today

August 26, 2016 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

As the school year begins for students from elementary schools to colleges, one thing that they all have in common is that they are prime targets for identity theft. Here is my latest column from USA Today in which I describe the problem and what you can do about it.

How college kids and even elementary students (!) are vulnerable.
USATODAY.COM

Scam of the day – January 2, 2016 – New law to protect children from identity theft

January 2, 2016 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

North Carolina became the latest state to enact a law providing for credit freezes for children to protect against child identity theft. Unfortunately, less than half of the states provide this much needed protection of minors from identity theft.  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.

TIPS

If you live in North Carolina, you should go to the website www.ncdoj.gov/creditfreeze for information about how to put a credit freeze on credit reports of your children.  If you live in one of the other states that have similar laws, 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. For information about how to put a credit freeze on your own credit reports go to the Search This Website section of Scamicide at the top of the page and type in “credit freeze.”  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.  Also, 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 – December 23, 2015 – Hello Kitty hacked – updated

December 23, 2015 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Just in time for Christmas, security researcher Chris Vickery announced that he had discovered evidence of a data breach of more than 3.3 million accounts at Sanrio, the Japanese company that operates the Hello Kitty brand which includes numerous products and online games that appeal to young children.  In order to play the multi-player online game of Hello Kitty, users are required to register on SanrioTown.com  The data breach, according to Sanrio was due to misconfiguration of a data base which resulted in the information being open to public access.  However, this misconfiguration had gone on for a month before it was discovered by Vickery and there is no way of knowing, at this time, how many people may have already accessed the information.

Compromised information involved in the Hello Kitty data breach includes names, birth dates, email addresses, encrypted passwords and password security questions and answers.  It has not yet been determined whether or not financial information was also stolen, but the potential threats presented by the information we already know has been taken is significant.  This information can lead to damaging identity theft of children and their parents as well as an increased risk of dangerous spear phishing.

TIPS

If you or your children used the website sanriotown.com as well as their websites hellokitty.com and mymelody.com you should change your passwords immediately and if you, like too many other people use the same password for all of your online accounts, you should change your passwords at each of those accounts to a unique password for each account.  You also may wish to monitor your credit and consider putting a credit freeze on your credit reports.  If you are in a state that permits you to freeze the credit of your minor children, you definitely should do that.   You can find more information about credit freezes and how to put them on your credit reports here on the Scamicide website.

Steve Weisman’s latest column for USA Today

September 12, 2015 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Here is a link to Steve Weisman’s latest column for USA Today dealing with the serious problem of children and identity theft.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2015/09/11/children-victims-identity-theft/72091926/

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.