In July 2007, Barbara Whitaker of The New York Times told the story of Gabriel Jimenez. Jimenez lost his identity to thieves when he was 11 years old. Now 25, he’s still cleaning up the mess. His credit score may never recover. Have a look at ssc for child for more info on this.
What makes a child a preferred target?
For 2005, Federal Trade Commission records show 11,601 reports of identity theft filed on behalf of victims under the age of 18. Minors make ideal targets for identity thieves-the younger the victim, the more time there they have to exploit the child’s identity.
A crime like this can go undetected for years. Why? In general, the child does not take on credit obligations until she’s 18 or older. It’s only then that the child or her parents check her credit file.
Rites of passage denied
The damages a minor bears can run wide and deep. For example, he could be denied a credit card or a car loan. Worse, he may be forced to delay his education if he’s not approved for his student loans. He may even miss out on job opportunities if potential employers require a credit check. Here’s the worst scenario: a criminal can present the victim’s identity when arrested. Now, the child now has a criminal record even if the criminal walks away.
If you’re a parent, you can…
- Check your child’s credit report. The credit reporting agencies do not knowingly maintain credit files on children. A check of your child’s credit should turn up nothing until she turns 18 unless she is a victim of identity theft.
To obtain a credit report, you must contact the credit bureau through the mail by sending them your child’s:
-date of birth
-a copy of your child’s birth certificate
-a copy of your child’s social security card
The parent also needs to send a copy of his or her own driver’s license or other government-issued proof of identity. Such proof must include a current residential address. Finally, parents must provide a current utility bill that also includes their home address.
- Check for an earnings statement from the Social Security Administration. Unless your child is a victim of identity theft, there should be no earnings associated with his social security number.
- Safeguard social security numbers. Shred anything with a social security number on it. Keep all social security cards safe at home.
- Warn your children not to give out personal information unless it’s vitally important. Explain to them that they should not provide such information. All the more so when they’re online.
- Be leery of credit offers to your children. If you see anything suspicious, notify the credit bureaus. Then, check your child’s credit report to find out if someone is using her credit.
- Get a police report. If someone hijacks your child’s identity, file a police report. Be sure to keep several copies on file. You’ll need the report to prove your child is a victim.
- Educate yourself. You can learn more by contacting the FTC at http://www.ftc.gov/ or (877) IDTHEFT.
We’re all in this together!
We all pay a price when criminals steal a child’s identity. Thankfully, parents are growing more vigilant. And, they’re getting better at spotting fraudulent activities in a timely manner. This makes it possible to protect our youngsters’ innocence.