The Sweet Sixteen Rule

Your child is turning 16! As a parent in the US, your mind is occupied with planning the big sweet 16 party and preparing for a new driver on the road (and the crazy high insurance that goes with it). During this exciting time, there’s something else you should be thinking about—your child’s credit score. identity theft is more common than we want to think it is. According to a study by Identity Theft Assistance, 1 in every 40 households with minor children has been affected by child identity theft. Thieves love this kind of identity theft because 1) it gives them a clean slate because kids don’t have a credit history, and 2) it usually takes years before the crime is discovered—and it’s a lot of time to do some extensive damage. Many kids who have had their identities stolen don’t find out until they are adults trying to buy a car, apply for a college loan, or rent a place and they are denied due to low credit scores. At that point, it could take years to undo the damage and build a respectable credit score. No parent wants that for their child!

So when your child turns the big 16, start a new tradition and check to see if your child has a credit report. If your child does have a report, check to make sure there are not any mistakes on it and also check in why he or she would have a credit report (since most wouldn’t). You’ll not only save your child tons of headaches later on, but you’ll have a head start on clearing this up before it becomes a big mess.

But the best way to fix child identity theft is to prevent it in the first place. Here are a few tips to protect your child’s identity.

  • Keep your child’s information in a private, safe place. Don’t carry your child’s Social Security card or identity card around with you and make sure their birth certificate is in a safe place, like a locked file cabinet, safe or safety deposit box.
  • Only give out your child’s personal info when necessary. Be particular who you share your child’s Social Security number or identification number with, and when in doubt, leave it blank. The little league coordinator does NOT need to have this information, and even places that you may think may need it like your doctor’s office, you should check to be sure. Remember, once the information leaves your hands, it is out of your control.
  • Shred any sensitive documents before discarding. Rule of thumb: if it has an identification number  or any personal information on it, shred it.
  • Be alert to robberies and security breaches. If your home has been broken into, make sure all documents are accounted for.
  • Be careful what you and your child shares online. Make sure to teach your child the “rules of the road” for online safety and why sharing personal information online can be risky.
  • Invest in security software. Use software like McAfee’s LiveSafe™ service to protect your data and identity as well as your child’s on all your computers, smartphones and tablets.

For more information on protecting your identity, make sure to like McAfee’s Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!  Disclosures.

Family Identity Theft is Ugly

Identity theft isn’t just the stuff of exciting movie and TV dramas; this happens in real life—and often. In fact, that Target breach that made headlines, Neiman Marcus, those 1. 2 Billion records the Russian cyber gang hacked: all identity theft. 2012, according to one research firm, 12.6 million people in the U.S. alone were victims of ID fraud. This translates to this crime occurring every three seconds. If that isn’t bad enough, it’s estimated that one-third of ID theft is committed against the thieves’ own family members.

Sometimes a person learns this when requesting a copy of their credit report. Expecting to see a high score, they instead see pages and pages of fraudulent credit card activity—and a very damaged credit. The thief can even be the victim’s own mother. Or spouse. Or daughter, son, sister, brother.

As appalling as this is, it’s not the least bit unusual. It’s easy, for instance, for a parent to access their child’s name and Social Security number, then open up a phony account—even if the victim is literally a child. Most companies don’t check the ages, so that’s why this crime can go undetected for years.

The victim may not even learn of the crime until adulthood when they apply for their first credit card or student loan. Learning that the thief is a family member, particularly a parent, delivers a particularly hard blow, for obvious reasons. At least there’s no emotional impact when the thief is a stranger or even someone outside the family whom you know.

It can take quite some time to restore damaged credit. The Federal Trade Commission has an online guide that will help victims recover from the crime of identity theft.

Children can’t protect themselves, so adults need to do it for them. That often requires an investment of time and money.

Credit freezes or fraud alerts aren’t available to children until their identity is stolen.

Applying for a fraud alert every quarter to 6 months and being denied means no credit has been established.

Identity theft protection in many cases will help prevent child identity theft. However not all services offer this option. The good news is that child identity theft protection is generally less than $50.00 a year per child when the parent invests in a family plan.

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

Child Identities need more Legal Protection

Identity theft can involve children. In fact, it’s a growing problem. The thief takes a child’s Social Security number and either uses their name or assigns it to a different name and always changes the date of birth. So 2 year old Sally is now 22 and has a Benz. The thief then uses this new identity for job applications, loans or government benefits.

1DThe unique disaster is that child identity theft could persist for years before the parents or victim when older figure it out. This delay makes it harder to restore the victim’s good name. Tens of thousands of children are victims of identity theft every year across the U.S.

In Florida, it’s estimated that 50,000 child identity theft cases occur every year. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Sen. Nancy Detert have proposed legislation to help prevent victimization.

A bill (SB 242) will permit parents to freeze a child’s credit records until they’re old enough to use them: the Keeping IDs Safe (KIDS) Act.

A broad coalition of groups (e.g., bankers, law enforcement and children’s advocates) backs this legislation. This includes the Florida Police Chiefs Association, Children’s Home Society and school superintendents.

The KIDS Act may protect up to 10,000 Florida kids from identity theft every year.

How it works:

Parents of kids under 16 or who are guardians of disabled adults can request that a credit agency create the credit record; then freeze it until the child/adult can use it. A fee of up to $10 can be charged by the agencies.

Though adults have already been able to freeze their credit records, they need to realize that child identity theft is a real and growing problem, and that freezing their records is a very viable guard against this crime.

Meanwhile identity theft protection in many cases will help prevent child identity theft. However not all services offer this option. The good news is that child identity theft protection is generally less than $50.00 a year per child when the parent invests in a family plan.

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

Why Child Identity Theft is Dangerous

Identity theft in the form of new account fraud can happen to anyone with a Social Security number, which includes virtually any American with a pulse…as well as some who no longer do. Identity theft can even happen to your newborn baby shortly after a Social Security number has been issued to him or her and this could have long term implications for your child.

Within days of your child’s birth, you typically sign documentation prior to being released from the hospital, and a Social Security number is issued within a few weeks. That number is promptly distributed to many entities: the U.S. Social Security Administration, the hospital, your doctors’ offices, your insurance company, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)—and anyone who has access to the relevant documents or files can also gain access to a person’s identity.

There is a growing trend among identity thieves to steal the identities of children, especially infants because it is unlikely that your child or you as parent, will be checking their credit report, since they are too young to talk let alone have a credit card. Child identity theft occurs when the identity of someone under the age of 18 is compromised. When this occurs, the child’s Social Security number is used to open up new accounts. The new accounts opened could be anything from credit cards to bank loans to automobile loans.

Your child’s records represent a clean slate for the criminal and it usually takes years before the theft is discovered. Often, the first time victims discover that their identity was stolen is when they engage in their first financial transaction and try to establish credit by, for example, purchasing a cell phone or buying a car.

There have been far too many instances of parents receiving a call from a bill collector informing you that your two-year-old bought a Mercedes and defaulted on a loan. Or perhaps law enforcement may come knocking on your door to inquire about crimes committed by your newborn child. So besides damaged credit, you child could have income tax liability or a criminal record as the result of identity theft.

The best protection against child identity theft is comprehensive device security, like McAfee LiveSafe™ service, along with filing a fraud alert with the credit bureaus every quarter with the hope that you are denied, because a credit report doesn’t exist—means your child’s identity is still safe. As parents we need to be vigilant about protecting our own and our kids’ information.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!  Disclosures.

Child Identity Theft

Child identity theft is a growing problem. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that there are 500,000 new victims every year. The culprits are often parents or others who have direct access to the child’s Social Security number. (In my own experience, I’ve had to give out my children’s Social Security numbers to hospitals, insurers, and schools more than I can count.) When irresponsible parents apply for credit in their children’s names due to existing financial hardships, the soiling of their credit begins.

Jason Truxel was denied a mortgage because of bad credit. He had no idea that his credit scores were low, so he pulled his credit reports. He discovered a tremendous amount of debt, and accounts he had never opened. One such account showed that a credit card had been opened in his name when he was 13 years old. Jason found out the hard way that he was a victim of child identity theft. When Jason was a child, his father was convicted of credit card fraud.

You may be saying, “Of course I would never steal my own child’s identity,” but sometimes the custodial parent discovers that his or her ex committed identity theft when notices from bill collectors begin to arrive.

If you ever determine that your child’s identity has been stolen, you should immediately file a report with a local police department. A police report is often the first step to have the unauthorized accounts removed from the child’s credit report.

Creditors often fail to verify the applicant’s age and simply accept a credit application at face value. Children rarely discover that they are victims of identity theft until they are adults, when they are denied a student loan or even a job, if their potential employer runs a credit check and deems the applicant irresponsible based on poor credit history.

Some would say, “Protect your child’s Social Security number,” which is okay advice, but not practical and not really possible. The best solution is to invest in identity theft protection.

To ensure peace of mind and protect your child’s most valuable asset, his or her identity, subscribe to an identity protection service, such as McAfee Identity Protection, which offers proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on your accounts. For additional tips, please visit

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him discuss child identity theft on NBC Boston. (Disclosures)

Neighborhood Identity Thieves From Hell

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert Speaker

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Unfortunately your enemies could be living in your home or across the street. As the economy tanks, people get desperate and thieves victims become those in their lives.

With all the hullabaloo about criminal hackers and identity thieves organizing as webmobs from all over the world, people often forget that it’s the people in our lives that are the closest to us who often perpetrate these crimes.

Especially in tough times, identity thieves could be someone in your inner trusted circle. I’ve consulted on stories where the dad stole his child’s identity. Those closest to us at home or work have direct access to our data.

“Familiar” Identity theft happens because the thief goes through a process of rationalizing their ability to commit the crime. The process is often referred to as the “Fraud Diamond”.

First they have Incentive. They say “I want to or have a need to commit this crime”. Next is Opportunity. They see a hole or weakness in the system they can easily exploit. And of course Rationalization; “I have convinced myself it is worth the risks”. Lastly, Capability; they determine they are the right person for the job and can pull off the scam.

Here a local neighborhood was terrorized by a drug addicted mom and dad who had a penchant for technology and used their skills to feed their habit.

Much of the crimes they committed could have been prevented.

1. Get a credit freeze or fraud alert
2. Invest in a locking mail box
3. Shred all throwaway paper work
4. Turn off the paper
5. Turn on WPA security for your wireless network
6. Pay attention to all your statements and refute unauthorized charges
7. As a national spokesperson for uni-ball, I recommend using a uni-ball® pen, which contains Uni “Super Ink” formula, to write checks and sign important documents. This specially-formulated ink won’t wash out and protects against check washing. Those closest to you have access to your canceled checks and can rewrite to themselves.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker Expert discussing family identity theft Here