Parents expect to worry about certain things: are their kids hitting all the key developmental milestones? Should the kids be spending so much time on the computer? Are they doing well in school? Now, according to today’s fraud from The Salt Lake Tribune, they have a new worry: will my kid’s identity be stolen?
I’ve written a lot in “Fraud of the Day” about criminals stealing the identities of innocent victims and using them to commit fraud. In a recent post, I talked about how a Russian national had been using another man’s identity for 20 years. Now, imagine how long identity fraud can be perpetrated if the fraud begins before a kid is even in kindergarten. Today’s article squarely addresses this issue and focuses on the efforts of the state of Utah to get ahead of the problem.
The article notes that 67 percent of identities that were reported stolen in Utah belonged to children. Nationally, child identity theft has more than tripled since 2003. (Thousands more don’t even know their identities have been stolen yet.) So, why do ID thieves target kids? “Crooks like to use children’s identities to commit credit fraud because the crime can go undetected for years, until the child becomes an adult and tries to get a credit card or take out a loan in his or her name.”
Utah’s Attorney General is out ahead on this issue and has developed a Child Identity Protection program to “help safeguard children’s personal information.” (Great idea and kudos to the AG, but this needs to be done on a national level.) The program works in partnership with a national credit-reporting agency and “places a warning on a child’s credit record and puts them into a ‘high risk fraud’ database.” If someone tries to commit fraud using the kid’s Social Security number, “a warning will pop up saying that the Social Security number belongs to a minor.”
ID thieves are using kids’ identities to commit any and all types of fraud: credit card fraud, tax refund fraud, unemployment fraud, food stamp fraud…you name it. And parents don’t even know it. Utah’s efforts should be considered a best practice – one that should be replicated nationally to protect our kids’ identities, safeguard their futures and ensure integrity in government programs.