September 1st is Child ID Theft Awareness Day. Last year, more than 1 million children became victims of ID theft, and children are more susceptible to a new kind of ID theft — synthetic identity theft.
The FTC calls synthetic identity fraud the fastest-growing form of identity fraud, accounting for as many as 80-85% of credit card fraud cases. Transunion estimates that in 2017 alone, $355 million in outstanding credit card balances belonged to people who don’t actually exist. Children born after June 25, 2011, the day Social Security began randomizing SSN numbers, and new immigrants to the US are most likely to be the victims of this type of ID Theft.
Instead of using the identity of a real person, a fraudster can use loopholes in the financial system to create a fabricated credit record for a person that may not exist. They then use this identity to commit a wide range of fraud schemes.
Synthetic ID Theft is often thought of as a victimless crime, where only the financial institution or lender is being hurt. In reality, the SSNs used could belong to a child and that connection may not be discovered until they become credit-active adults – applying for college loans or their first apartment. There have even been cases were a fraudster has committed crimes using a synthetically created ID for years only to then have the SSN assigned to a newborn. Imagine having a baby with a negative credit history and criminal record.
How to protect your family:
- Always be vigilant with your and your family’s personal information, only provide SSNs when necessary
- Check credit files from each major bureau once a year using Annualcreditreport.com
- Call For Action suggests getting one from a different bureau every 4 months
- If you have minor children over the age of 14, they can request their report the same way
- If your child is under 14, contact each major bureau directly to check your child’s file
- Consider placing a freeze on your children’s files (state laws on cost vary)
Experian has developed a new tool to help parents monitor their children’s SSN, Child ID Scan. This free tool can be found at: www.experian.com/childscan
Our partners at Fox 5 in Atlanta did a story on Synthetic ID Theft:
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