Raising Awareness of Child Identity Theft

May 12, 2011

A recent report on child identity theft is helping to raise awareness of this growing cyber crime. The theft of a child's social security number could result in house purchases, credit card accounts and other financial dealings being conducted falsely under a child's name. Because of the victim's age, the crime goes undetected for years.

The report titled, "Child Identity Theft: New Evidence Indicates Identity Thieves are Targeting Children for Unused Social Security Numbers," was released in April by CyLab Distinguished Fellow, Richard Power. The report is based on scans of over 42,000 U.S. children’s records by Debix, an identity protection company.

One alarming finding was that 10.2 percent of the children's records in the study had been affected by identity theft. The youngest victim was only a few months old. Read more about the study.

Since the report was released in April, there has been a variety of news coverage, such as from CBS affiliates. The following excerpt is from CBS Miami:

"The study showed that it (identity theft) is occurring at all ages," said Dr. Haritos Tsamitis. "It's even occurring in young infants. But I think it's more widespread in teenagers."

For example, Zach Friesen had a $40,000 boat bought in his name when he was seven years old.

"Someone got a hold of my identity," said Friesen, "just my social (security number) and my name and was then able to borrow $40,000."

Trouble was, like many of these child id theft victims, Zach Friesen and his parents didn't find out about the identity theft for another ten years.

"When I was 17, I was in for my first job and was applying for schools, for universities," said Friesen. "(And I) was denied a student loan, denied a job and found out that was for a $40,000 house boat in my name."

Experts say one reason thieves target children is that this type of ID theft isn't on most parents' radar.

The experts say that most parents simply aren't as careful with their children's social security numbers and other information as they are with their own.

Additional coverage of the Child Identity Theft report is listed below.

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