Report on Child ID Theft Attempts to Raise Awareness on Vital Issue
posted by Nichole Dwyer
April 1, 2011
Wouldn’t you want to know if your eight-year-old was in foreclosure on a home in another state? Wouldn’t you want to know if your three-year-old was in collection for a huge utility bill across town? Wouldn't you rather find out now than on when he or she is applying for student loans on the eve of going away to college?
In an effort to articulate vital concerns and raise public awareness, CyLab Distinguished Fellow Richard Power has released a report entitled, "Child Identity Theft: New Evidence Indicates Identity Thieves are Targeting Children for Unused Social Security Numbers."
Based on scans of over 42,000 U.S child IDs by Debix, an identity protection company, the report offers glimpses into a real threat to families financial security.
Key findings include:
- 4,311 or 10.2% of the children in the report had someone else using their Social Security number
- Child IDs were used to purchase homes and automobiles, open credit card accounts, secure employment and obtain driver’s licenses
- The largest fraud ($725,000) was committed against a 16 year old girl
- The youngest victim was five months old; 303 victims were under the age of five
Here is a brief excerpt from the report:
Although the data’s statistical significance is yet to be determined, it is certainly profoundly significant on a practical, human level to the thousands of children and families who have thus been victimized. Furthermore, from my perspective, having tracked the evolution of cyber crime over two decades, it is only common sense to surmise that the problem goes beyond those breached accounts included in this report, and that there are many thousands more children and their families at risk.
But even if it were only one child, what if that child were yours?
Wouldn’t you want to know your child was in foreclosure on a home in another state? Wouldn’t you want to know if your child had run up a huge utility bill across town? Wouldn’t you want to know that your child had a hunting license? Wouldn’t you want to know that your child had a driver’s license and a car registered in his or her name?
Dena Haritos Tsamitis, CyLab’s Director of Education, Training and Outreach, and the developer of Carnegie Mellon University's MySecureCyberspace.com, a free educational resource on cyber security and privacy for children and their parents, concurs on the need for raising public awareness.
"With increased cyber-awareness, individuals are seeking ways to secure their personal financial information more than ever before. Based on this report, it’s clear they need to go further and extend that protection for their children. Parents are already struggling to handle the threats of cyberspace, including securing their own computers and talking with their children about the many risks in cyberspace from online predators to cyber-bullying. The trend in child identity theft is added weight on their shoulders. Although it will be a challenge for them to manage, it is essential to safeguarding their children’s futures."
For more information, and to download the full report, go to CyBlog: Child Identity Theft: New Evidence Indicates Identity Thieves are Targeting Children for Unused Social Security Numbers.