NEW YORK (Credit.com) — While consumers across the country are concerned about the effects identity theft might have on their financial standing, they should keep a close eye on their kids’ situation as well.
Researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University Cylab recently found that kids are at 51 times the risk of being targeted by identity thieves as adults. According to a report from the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana, identity theft attacks targeting kids can be more problematic because it can takes years or even decades for the victim to find out the crime has taken place.
Kids, of course, aren’t supposed to have credit profiles. Those shouldn’t come until they have accounts in their own names, such as credit cards, auto loans, student financing, and so forth. If they do, the report says, that’s likely a sign a thief has gained access to and used their personal information – Social Security number, which is then attached to a different name and date of birth – for fraud.
For this reason, parents should try to keep their kids’ personal information under tight wraps, the report said. Documents such as Social Security cards and birth certificates should be kept in a safe place, and sharing any data, even with sources they might otherwise trust, should be kept to a minimum. Parents with kids who are active online should keep an eye on their Web use to ensure they’re not sharing too much personal data on social networking profiles or elsewhere.
It might also be helpful to put a freeze on your child’s credit or at least monitor it, which will either prevent thieves from being able to use a child’s Social Security number for this type of fraud or at least alert adults that something is amiss, the report said. Even if identity theft takes place in the latter case, it may be much easier to pursue the parties responsible and clear up the issue well in advance of a kid needing a clean credit profile for their own purposes.