Child Identity Theft
It has been reported that child identity theft is a real concern in the California foster care system where 1 to 5 out of every 10 children face the consequences of identity theft at some of point in their lives. For many obvious reasons which we will discuss in this article, we can only guess that this crime which affects children’s future is not limited to just California or foster children. It makes sense that children are so highly affected by this crime because they are soft targets whose personal information such as birth date or social security number is available to their criminal parents, social workers and others with access to the Social Security Administration and court systems. In addition, children and their parents or guardians are either not concerned with the child’s credit history or start to care about their credit reports when they are old enough to apply for their first job or college, therefore delaying the identity theft detection process by years. Often child identity theft is committed by financially distressed individuals to pay for utility bills, medical bills, and save on taxes. This explains why defenseless foster children who escaped their abusive birth parents would be identity theft targets in such high numbers by people they trust most such as their foster parents, social workers and birth parents.
To address the foster children identity theft problem, California passed a law which requires social workers to obtain children’s credit reports when they turn 16 years old to detect identity theft fraud committed under their names. Although it is a very good idea to obtain and review children’s credit reports when they are around 16 to 18 years old to discover signs of identity theft, write dispute letters to creditors and easily erase their credit history by demonstrating that identity theft crime was committed when the child was a minor, there are more ways to protect children against identity theft. Some of the additional ways to protect children against identity theft include awareness education, limiting and monitoring their access to the Internet and the extent by which they share personal information for creating online accounts to play games, join groups and use Skype.
Economics play a big role in the child identity theft cases. If children are exposed to economically constrained families, they are bound to be used as tools to commit fraud for some type of economic benefit. However, this short minded behavior is likely to leave a lasting nightmare for children and their parents requiring efforts to detect, dispute and clear all tracks of identity theft left behinds months or even years ago.
Visit the identity theft overview section for other child identity theft related articles.