Identity Theft: Danger for Under 18s
Teens aged 15-18 were the most common age group to be the victims of identity theft. So why are minor’s identities at a much higher risk?
What would you do if you found out your teen’s credit score was in the tank before even graduating high school? What is if your teen is a victim of identity theft?
This is the frightening reality for the one in ten minors whose identities show evidence of theft. IDs are stolen and used to purchase homes and automobiles, apply for jobs, open credit cards and even obtain driver’s licenses, leaving a frustrating mess that often goes undiscovered until the teen becomes an adult.
Did you know that people under the age of 18 are more likely to be the victims of identity theft than any other age group?
Teens aged 15-18 were the most common age group to be the victims of identity theft. So why are minor’s identities at a much higher risk? The Social Security Administration doesn’t share the names and dates of birth associated with social security numbers. This means there’s no way to verify the age of the cardholder. If the SSN is “clean,” a thief can use any name with it (even if the person is only 15).
It is often years before a minor’s stolen identity is discovered. This makes them an especially appealing target. Often the theft goes undiscovered until applying for a job or a loan after graduation, at which point your teen may be denied important opportunities.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOUR TEEN?
• Keep documents such as social security cards safe. Do not carry or allow your child to carry their social security card in a wallet. It is best to store personal documents in a safety deposit box until needed. It’s also a good idea to not share your child’s SSN until they are old enough to understand how to protect it.
• Make sure that your child never shares personal information online, including home addresses, phone numbers, etc.
• Watch for mail in your child’s name. If your teen begins to receive credit card offers in the mail, this could indicate an open credit file!
• Never open utility bills or other accounts with your child’s name and SSN. Often parents do this to take advantage of the child’s clean SSN, but this is identity theft.
According to Carnegie Mellon CyLab, minors are 51x more likely to have their identity stolen than their parents.