Identity Theft; Children Becoming Prime Identity Theft Targets

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We often hear about identity theft and the many costs, frustrations and headaches it causes for its (presumably adult) victims. But did you know that your toddler's identity is at risk too?

That's right. We now need to be protective of our childrens' identities too.

The daily newspapers are filled with headlines about data thefts that serve as constant reminders that we are not in total control of our identities and that everyone on this planet (young or old) is at risk. ID thieves have even been known to steal the identities of the dead.

One type of identity fraud that is rarely discussed, however, is the theft of a child's identity. Kids make perfect targets for identity thieves since the theft of a child's identity can go undetected for a long period of time. Often, the theft isn't discovered until a young adult is denied a student loan, credit or employment, all because of a destroyed credit rating.

It is reported that more than 11,500 children are victims of identity theft each year, however that number is growing and largely under-reported because parents often do not know that their children's personal information has been hijacked. While children's "identities" are typically stolen to create new accounts, more and more, they are being used by undocumented workers to gain employment.

Because the Social Security Administration does not have a "check and balance" system in place to tie names, ages and genders to social security numbers, thieves are able to manipulate the identities of children and use them to their advantage.

Take the case of Zach Friesen. Friesen had his identity stolen when he was just seven years old. The problem is, he didn't find out about it until he was 17. He was stunned to learn that he was denied both a student loan and a job - due to his bad credit history! He soon found out the reason--someone had purchased a houseboat in his name, leaving him with a $40,000 debt and a contaminated credit report. Zach and his mom spent weeks on the phone with banks, credit bureaus, and the police in an effort to clear his name. A child's personal information can be compromised by a variety of third-parties, including: doctors' and dentists' offices, school districts, insurance providers or even youth sporting leagues.

What can parents do to protect their children?

1. Call the major credit bureaus - Experian, Equifax and TransUnion - and check quarterly for a credit report for your child. You want to be certain that no credit report exists. If a report does exist, you'll need to call a credit repair agency to restore the report and immediately place a fraud alert on that account. That fraud alert will need to be renewed every 90 days.

2. Contact the Social Security Administration annually to request a work history for your child's social security number. As you would assume, you are looking to find a blank work history.

3. If your children receive junk mail or offers for credit from lenders or credit card companies, this could be a red flag that someone is using their identity.

4. Consider engaging an identity theft protection service that specifically monitors your child's identity.

The Identities of children are now being stolen by thousands because they are easy targets -no one ever monitors them. Kids aren't finding out they have been victimized until it's too late. By then, thieves have often been using their Identities for years and the kid's good name is ruined before he or she even has a chance to start.

Having someone else take on the clean-up process for you can save hours and hours of frustrations. Having spent plenty of time doing so myself, I can tell you unequivocally,it's no fun! Fortunately you can relieve much of that burden today by finding a company that offers services that are proactive in nature and can provide key assistance in recovering or your child's identity -or your own, if necessary.

Data breaches will continue to happen and criminals will continue to find new and innovative ways to steal our most valued possessions -our children's and our own identities!

Here are a few Identity theft statistics to think about:

An identity is stolen every 3-4 seconds -and at least five percent are kids.
More than 250 million Americans have had their data lost over the last three years.
Identity theft complaints hit 800,000 in 2007 (up from 670,000 in 2006)
The top 5 states for identity theft are Arizona, California, Florida, Texas and Nevada.

Remember, when it comes to identity theft, it's what you don't know that will hurt you! Take the necessary safeguards now to ensure your children have a clean and accurate credit rating when they need to use it.

Because LifeLock supports consumer protection and acknowledges the importance of public awareness and education, they have offered a promotional code: denise that provides a 20% discount.

This discount reduces the adult membership to a mere $88.00 per year or $8.00 a month, and children up to age16 can be protected for as little as $20.00 a year or $2.00 a month with an adult membership.

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