Child identity theft is on the rise. One reason child identity theft is on the rise is because of new software that can predict social security numbers (SSN) before a child is even born. Carnegie Mellon University's CyLab studied over 42,000 children and found that over 10% of them has SSNs that were being used by someone else. The study was based on identity scans on children under the age of 18.
Richard Power, a distinguished fellow at Carnegie Mellon Cylab, said in one case a 17-year-old girl's Social Security number was used by eight different people to amass $725,000 in debt. In another case, a 14-year-old boy had a 10-year-old credit history that included a mortgage on a $605,000 house. The information was supplied to Power by the identity protection firm All Clear ID. The youngest victim of Cylab's report was only five months old, and 303 child victims were under the age of five.
The study found that 70 % of the stolen Social Security numbers were used on loan or credit card applications. 18% on utility bills, 5% on property assessments, deeds, mortgages, and foreclosures, 4% to obtain driver's licenses and 2% on vehicle registrations.
The potential impact on your child's future is intense as a stolen identity could destroy or damage your kid's chances for student loans, car loans, acquiring a mobile phone, obtaining a job, or obtaining a place to live.
Data stored with medical providers or insurance companies are also susceptible to theft. Once an ID thief has that social security number, they have a lot of power. Power talks about the Social Security numbers taken off kids as young as five years old that are being used to purchase handguns. It's the lack of credit history associated with children's SSNs that is attractive to a thief.
You may not know your child's SSN was stolen until he or she reaches age 18 and applies for credit. So should parents continuously check with credit companies to see of their child's social security number is being used by identity thieves? Not necessarily. You should check if your child has a credit report, but the FTC or the Identity Theft Resource Center, does not advise checking your child's credit reports on a regular basis. Doing so might cause credit bureaus to create reports that put kids' identities at an even greater risk. You should check a child's credit report by age 16 at least, and it has been suggested to check every three or four years for children under 16.
Starting in June, the government intends to assign randomized number series to social security numbers that should make the software obsolete that guesses social security numbers. If your child was born before June 25, 2011, however, the software can easily predict those SSNs.
The Identity Theft Resource Center (http://www.idtheftcenter.org) gives parents tips on ordering a child's credit report. If you notice credit card applications arriving in the mail and addressed to your child, that could be a sign that your child's identity has been used on other credit card applications.