Children Heading Back to School Face Identity Theft Risk

This isn’t rocket science. We have millions of children registering for schools in person, online, over the phone, via email and through the mail. All of these transactions involve personal identifying information including names, addresses and Social Security numbers.

All of these exchanges of data can be breached in some way by those on the inside of these organizations, hackers from the outside or simply from someone stealing mail or going through the organization’s trash.

The problem here is that once a bad guy gets hold of the child’s Social Security number, he or she can then open new lines of credit under that child’s identity simply by lying and saying the child is 18 years or older. With that information in the wrong hands, that child will face serious issues as a young adult when he/she is starting a new life and career out of high school.

Dallas News reports, “Criminals create a synthetic ID by combining a child’s Social Security number with a different date of birth to fabricate an identity that can be used to commit fraud. ‘Synthetic identities are very difficult to detect,’ reported a Javelin study. Guarding your child’s Social Security number is critical to protecting his or her identity.”

Guarding a child’s Social Security number is like guarding a credit card number. It’s bad advice and doesn’t work. You can’t protect numbers once they are handed over to anyone. Once in the wild, they are vulnerable.

Best advice:

  1. Apply for a fraud alert through the three credit bureaus every quarter to six months to confirm no credit report has been issued. However, this may or may not produce a report based on synthetic identity theft—and it’s also time consuming.
  2. Invest in a family identity theft plan that also protects your children. The service will watch their Social Security numbers in the wild, and a good service will repair any damage done if the theft isn’t caught up front.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to discussing identity theft prevention. For Robert’s FREE ebook, text SECURE Your@emailaddress to 411247. Disclosures.