As if identity theft was not already enough of a problem, now there is a new target – our children. Identity thieves have found ways to use the personal information of young infants to open fraudulent accounts and make purchases. While millions of adults fall prey to identity thieves each year, a new study by ID ANALYTICS estimates that approximately 140,000 minors fall victim to identity theft as well.The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice have joined forces in their wars against identity theft on minors. Recently, they organized five panels to discuss the problem and ways to combat it.
Minor Identity Theft May be Worse
Some experts assert that a minor who is an identity theft victim may experience more damage than an adult victim because the crime can go undetected for years or even decades. The longer discovery period stems from the fact that children are not typically applying for credit cards and loans, as adults are.
According to Tom Oscherwitz, who is the Chief Privacy Officer at ID ANALYTICS, “Child identity fraud poses complex challenges to consumers, businesses and regulators. Unfortunately, minors’ identities are particularly appealing to fraudsters because their personal data is untainted, legitimate and less likely to be monitored for misuse.”
Correcting the Problem
Current laws and legislation do not focus on child identity theft, but theFederal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice intend to address the issue. The joint forces eventually plan to put processes in place to prevent identity theft in minors; for now, their work is more of a reactive process.
Currently, the focus is on creating parental awareness of the problem. Once parents understand the threat, the goal is to teach them how to react to the identity theft and correct any of the problems created by their child’s identity being stolen. Panelists also urge parents to take steps to protect the identity of their children as much as they would their own.