We do not give it much thought, but child identity theft is a growing threat.
According to the FTC, 4%-6% of the identity theft complaints received from 2014 to 2016 involved minors [1A]. At least 1 million children were victimized last year .
Child identity theft occurs when personal data like a child’s date of birth or Social Security number is stolen for the purpose of fraud.
A Shadow Identity
A child’s credit history is unmarred, and likely to go unchecked for years. Because of that, child identity theft may go undetected for an extended period.
During that time, thieves can use the child’s identity just as they would an adult’s. They can obtain driver’s licenses, sign leases, establish utility service, open bank accounts, qualify for credit cards, and purchase vehicles or property – meanwhile racking up debt in the child’s name.
Having developed this “shadow identity”, criminals can then sell and resell the child’s identity. At that point, the process starts all over again.
Sadly, family and friends are often implicated in the crime . These have ready access to a child’s personal information. Their temptation may be to exchange a poor credit history for a new and fresh one.
Schools may not take necessary precautions to prevent hackers and others from accessing the personal information with which they have been entrusted.
Children in foster care are particularly at risk, since their information is often shared across multiple agencies.
A damaged credit history can later prevent a child from obtaining school loans, renting a first apartment, or even possibly getting a job.
This is over and apart from the betrayal experienced, if the culprit is a close family member.
Concerned parents should watch for bills or credit card offers addressed to their children; collection agency calls; and/or IRS notification that children are listed (by name or Social Security number) as dependents on someone else’s tax return [1B].
In order to protect their children against identity theft, parents are encouraged to do the following [1C]:
- Change computer passwords frequently;
- Monitor the online profiles their children create, and minimize the disclosure of personal data;
- Check their children’s credit rating;
- Monitor their children’s Social Security numbers;
- Check for any banking activity in their children’s names;
- Monitor public records for references to their children.
Ours is an increasingly technological society. This makes us and our children vulnerable in ways we could not have imagined.
Identity in God’s Eyes
How different all this is from our identity in God’s eyes. No one can steal or fake that. God knows us from the inside out.
“You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways” (Ps. 139: 2-3).
God knows the very hairs on our head (Matt. 10: 29-31). We are each unique in God’s eyes, and each loved (Ps. 139: 13-14).
[1A, 1B, and 1C] LifeLock, “5 Ways to Help Protect Your Child from Identity Theft” by Alison Grace Johansen for NortonLifeLock, https://www.lifelock.com/learn-identity-theft-resources-ways-to-help-protect-your-child-from-identity-theft.html.
 Identity Theft Resource Center, “One Million Kids Were Victims of ID Theft Last Year”, https://www.idtheftcenter.org/one-million-kids-were-victims-of-id-theft-last-year/?utm_source=ITRC&utm_medium=Home.
 LifeLock, “5 Child Identity Theft Facts You Need to Know” by Alison Grace Johansen for NortonLifeLock, https://www.lifelock.com/learn-identity-theft-resources-child-identity-theft-facts-you-need-to-know.html.
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