Identity thieves targeting kids

Posted at 7:59 AM, Apr 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-24 11:09:21-04

The main job parents have is to keep their kids safe, but a child may be a victim of a crime right within sight and no one may know until long after the damage is done.

Identity thieves are targeting minors whose Social Security numbers provide a clean slate. They can borrow money using those numbers and make up the age. Victims often don't find out until they turn 18 when they try to lease an apartment or get a credit card.

"There can be huge and catastrophic consequences to this," said Eva Velasquez, who runs the Identity Theft Resource Center. "This puts them permanently behind."

Velasquez is no stranger to protecting her family. In 2015, her then-teenage son's Social Security number was one of the more than 37 million that got out as part of the Anthem health insurance beach.

"I was upset about it, but at the same time knew that this was my job as his mom," she said.

A 2011 Carnegie Mellon nonscientific study found that about 10 percent of 40,000 minors had someone else using their Social Security number.

Velasquez said in the case of kids, the thief is often a cash-strapped parent or relative taking advantage of the opportunity.

James Vogt, a lecturer at San Diego State University's School of Accountancy, said kids can also over share on the internet. He added signs of child identity theft include getting pre-approved credit offers in the mail, collection calls and IRS notices.

The Identity Theft Resource Center has more information on what to do to protect your children.