Child identity theft is a growing problem


I’m getting more and more questions about identity theft as it pertains to children, so I want to make one recommendation and one promise to you.

Identity theft is a constant refrain in a world where the old rule of business — “know thy customer” — is a relic of a bygone era. Increasingly, we deal with larger and larger remote corporations that don’t know who they do business with.

That has led, in part, to enormous economic growth. Think about the possibilities of e-commerce, where you can get on your computer and buy something from somebody located anywhere in the United States (or abroad,) and it shows up at your door in a few days. But on the flip side, all the remoteness of how we do business also makes it far easier for identity thieves.

The identity theft of children takes three major forms:

  1. Crooks seize the identity of a child by using their Social Security number.
  2. Illegal aliens will use a stolen Social Security number of a child to be able to get work and appear to be legal in the workplace.
  3. A family member will impersonate a child using their Social Security number to get new lines of credit in the child’s name. This is by far the most common form of child identity theft.

Unfortunately, the odds of a kid being subject to identity theft are 50 times greater than an adult because there is no procedure in place to protect a child’s identity. (You can’t freeze a child’s credit. As a general rule, most children don’t have active credit files to freeze.)

So here’s my advice: Use to help protect a child’s identity (or yours) for free. In addition, I’m going to see if I can meet with officials from at least one of the major credit bureaus to talk about what steps the industry can take to help crush child identity theft. I’ll report back to you if I’m able to get a meeting and what comes of it. Stay tuned…

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