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Some young adults applying for their first credit card may have a shock waiting for them, finding out that someone has stolen their identity. A 2018 Child Identity Fraud Study, by Javelin Strategy & Research, shows that in 2017 over 1 million kids had their identities stolen. To help parents get the jump on cyber thieves and prevent young adults from having to deal with the aftermath of identity theft, Experian has launched Child ID Scan, a free service.
During the free scan, the system checks to see if the child's Social Security number has a credit file with Experian. If the system finds a credit file, Experian's Fraud Resolution team help the child's parent or guardian resolve the issue. "A child's SSN is like gold to identity thieves and a clean slate for criminals to do damage over possibly a long period of time," said Michael Bruemmer, vice president of Consumer Protection at Experian.
"We are vigilant when it comes to protecting people's identities and hope Child Identity Theft Awareness Day rallies communities and parents to take action. Our free service and educational content can be key resources, but we urge parents to be vigilant on an ongoing basis. If they aren't, the consequences for their children can be damaging and long-term," he said.
Parents or legal guardians can sign up for the service. To get the scan the child should be under 18 years of age.
Child identity theft costs victims money, time and sometimes relationships
Child identity theft can give young adults lots of challenges. According to a recent survey by Experian, 59% of individuals who had their identity stolen when they were a child reported that their credit score and credit report was compromised by fraud.
What happened when they applied for a credit card, a loan or something else? More than half (52%) reported that they were denied credit. And for 34%, childhood identity theft hit them in the wallet because they needed help getting their identity back.
This financial stress also took its toll on their personal lives, with 20% of respondents reporting that they had relationship problems because of identity theft.
Twelve seems to be the age of choice for hackers and cyber thieves. Most victims of childhood identity theft reported that their identity was stolen when they were twelve years old.
But 45% did not find out that their identity had been compromised until they were 16 or 18. At that age, many were applying for some kind of credit or were starting their first job.
How did they discover their identity was stolen? Over half (51%) found out on their own, usually when they had applied for a credit card, or opened their mailbox to find a credit card or bill that was not theirs waiting for them.
People who want to find out if their child has an issue with their credit can get more information on the webpage Experian has set up for the service. Parents looking for a more comprehensive way to keep track of their child's identity can also take a look at Experian’s IdentityWorks, which offers family identity monitoring, covering two adults and up to ten kids.