According to the Federal trade Commission there was an estimated half million children who joined the ranks last year with the unfortunate distinction of becoming victims of identity theft. An advocacy group called the Identity Theft Resource Center identifies relatives as being involved in more than half of the child identity theft cases reported in the United States in year 2006. It should be noted however, the thief is not always someone who knows the child. It is suspected by this resource center that identity theft of children is increasing so rapidly precisely because kids are such good targets. They further believe children are victimized because they usually have a spotless record and because they aren't using their credit and as such; the crime can go undetected for years.
Now that most infants by law have social security numbers, thieves have discovered they may be the easiest targets of all. Thieves have years to manipulate these identities and create a considerable amount of damage. Infants and children remain lucrative targets because they typically don't use their social security numbers until their late teens and discover the theft problem upon applying for a first job, a student loan or a credit card. When families and their children finally find out, the burden of proof falls on them. Some of the most common tactics of identity theft (but not limited to) include parents using their children's' Social Security numbers to open up new credit accounts, and "dumpster diving" thieves stealing credit offers mistakenly sent to children too young to make use of the application themselves. Helen Simmonds, a detective in a local police department, has been handling identity theft investigations.
It was noted that almost all involved Social Security numbers issued in the early 1990s to children who are now turning 16, 17 and 18, and trying to obtain credit for the first time. It is believed by the investigator that there is going to be an epidemic [of such cases] not just locally but; across the nation. It then should come of no surprise that credit-monitoring services are beginning to target concerned parents, offering to monitor children's identities. At LifeLock, credit monitoring for your child costs only $25 annually in addition to a $10 monthly charge for adults. LifeLock also takes actions to basically audit the Social Security Administration annually on the child's behalf to find out if there's been any work history related to the child's identity number.
A spokesperson for the SSA advises that parents can simply call their local Social Security office and get that information free of charge. However as a concerned consumer and parent you need to know; if thief is using your child's Social Security number, but with a different name then your child's, the SSA will not find a matching record for your offspring. One of the major credit reporting agencies: Experian - recently launched FamilySecure monitoring service which alerts parents as soon as anyone applies for credit using their child's name. However, at $19.95 a month, the cost might be a bit cumbersome to many family budgets. Parents that remember or have the time whom want to contact the three Credit Bureaus to determine if there is any activity on their children's credit can use the following contact Information and procedures; Experian Call 1-888-379-3792, select the Fraud option.
Parents have to mail in documentation, including proof that they are the parent or legal guardian for the child, such as a birth certificate for the child and driver's license for the parent. If the child does not have a credit file, Experian will notify the parents in writing. If a credit file exists, Experian will provide a copy to the parent so they can dispute any fraudulent information. The bureau will attach a notice on the file that it belongs to a minor, to prevent lenders from issuing credit in the future.
For Equifax Mail a request to: Equifax Information Services, P.O. Box 105139, Atlanta, GA 30348.
Attach documentation identifying you as the child's parent (see above). If a credit record exists, Equifax will delete any fraudulent accounts, take the report offline and flag the Social Security number as one belonging to a minor. Parents cannot receive a copy of the fraudulent report. Actions for TransUnion require a parent to Email childidtheft@transunion.
com TransUnion will email back instructions on requesting a file. If one exists, the bureau will lock the file until the child turns 18, so his or her information cannot be used to obtain credit. TIPS for ID Theft Prevention: Don't give out personal information: never reveal anything about yourself unless you initiate the contact or if you request a phone number that you may call back to authenticate the representation being made (do not give out your Social Security number, phone number, date of birth, or credit card numbers or carry your Social Security Card). Watch your mail: make sure you collect it right after it is delivered if it is out in the open and accessible to others. Shred important documents: SSN, credit card numbers, driver's license numbers, date of birth and pre-approved credit offers (you can stop these by going to. Pay attention to your billing cycle: missing bills could indicate theft.
Use reputable and secured websites: always use a secure browser, when paying online check to make sure it's secure (https: instead of http: identifies a secured server that encrypts the information you submit). Protect your PC: protect against viruses and spyware, use a firewall, and don't download attachments from people you do not know. Do not carry your Social Security card or that of you children's in your wallet, purse or automobile.
Secure the cards in a safe place when not specifically needed. There are services that charge for protective and proactive identity measures to safeguard the good name and credit of adults and minor children. If you do not have the time or expertise to put needed safeguards in place make room in the budget for the available experts.
Thief's have the time and ability to steal and ruin your identity. Don't think for a minute it can't happen to you or your family members because millions of others were just as confident and lost.
Visit http://www.adultwishfoundations.com/Life_Lock.html to learn more about a credit protection service that offers - Proactive Identity Theft Protection, Reduced Junk Mail, Reduced Credit Card Offers, $1 Million Service Guarantee, Child Protection Program, Wallet Watch and more for Only $10 per Month.