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Children as Targets of Identity Theft

I read a pretty alarming article this morning which I wanted to report on here. Last month, a Massachusetts man wrote a letter to his local newspaper in response to a wire story from the Chicago Tribune about “online shopping fraud.” Even though adults are considered to be most at risk, especially during the holiday shopping frenzy, our children may be just as vulnerable to identity theft.

The author of the letter, William Gedenberg, cites a Carnegie Mellon study which says that roughly 10 percent of the 42,000 kids sampled reported their identity stolen before the age of 18. “That’s 52 times the 0.2 percent incidence of reported adult identity theft,” Gedenberg writes.

With college, financial aid, scholarship and apartment applications at risk of termination, vigilance is imperative for parents. The two big “red flags” that Gedenberg poses are:

Direct mail from retailers

Unsolicited loan or credit card applications

If either of these come in the mail addressed to your child, here’s what the author recommends:

“Run a credit check on the child’s behalf…”

“Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website, and follow their prompts to report suspicion of identity theft.”

We all have a part in making sure the next generation is set for success. Any parent knows that the safety of their children is priority number one. Although we don’t always consider how or why thieves might want to take advantage of our child’s information, it is important to be vigilant and defensive. Know the “red flags,” and do whatever is necessary to protect your babies.

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