When most people think of identity theft, they are likely to think of big bank accounts and credit cards. Unfortunately, identity theft is much more complex than just stealing money from someone’s account. Thieves can use your information to do everything from buying a home to committing a crime.
It seems silly, then, that an identity thief would want to use the identity of a young child. According to AARP, children under the age of 18 are 51 times more likely to experience identity theft than their parents. Unfortunately, there are a number of reasons why children make great targets for identity thieves.
Their credit and personal information aren’t regularly monitored
Although it may seem more difficult to steal someone’s credit accounts when they don’t have any, with the right information, an identity thief can open new accounts quite easily. Because your child isn’t likely to have a credit account in his or her name, you probably won’t request their credit reports. That means an identity thief can use your child’s name to take out multiple credit accounts and continue using them for months, or even years, before you realize what’s happening.
They know a lot of people who could turn out to be identity thieves
An identity thief is more likely to be someone you know, even though most people think of identity thieves as people who live in other states or countries. When it comes to children, they know a lot of adults who could be potential identity thieves.
From support staff in the school to household employees and even family members, it can be extremely easy to steal a child’s information, use it, and move on before the family has any idea what has happened. Some identity thieves may even feel a little bit better about using a child’s information, especially if they are young, because they won’t know what’s going on anyway.
A clean slate
There is a lot of baggage that comes along with stealing someone’s identity. From existing debt to immigration problems, and identity thief may actually be taking a risk stealing an adult’s personal information. They don’t face those same challenges with a child.
Children don’t have any existing debt, so an identity thief doesn’t have to worry about debt collectors. They don’t have to worry about possible immigration issues, and they don’t have to worry about any previous criminal activity. There are fewer risks associated with stealing a child’s identity.
It’s so important to monitor a child’s information because that child may not realize that there’s a problem until they go to apply for a job or try to take out a student loan. The easiest way to keep your child’s good name is to keep an eye on their social security number, name, and credit scores from an early age. In addition to obtaining a yearly credit report for each of your children, you can also get help from an identity theft protection company. Many companies have plans and options that will monitor everyone in your household, including children.