Fraud Experts Say Criminals Targeting Your Child’s Identity
The junk mail coming to your child may not be junk after all. Fraud and forgery experts say that's usually the first sign that someone has stolen your child's identity.
"Your children are getting pre-approved credit card notices that you laugh off. You're getting collection notices. You can't just throw that away - that's a gigantic red flag," says Det. Erik Stoddard with the Columbus Division of Police.
Det. Stoddard says parents need to understand how easy it is for thieves to steal your child's identity without you even knowing.
"A child's i.d. may be stolen and just tucked away when they are 3, 4, 5 years old and only when they reach adulthood and start looking at their own credit do they realize there is a history they didn't even know about," explained Stoddard.
So what's a parent to do?
Stoddard recommends parents protect a child's social security number as if it were their own, especially when it comes to filling out medical forms or school enrollment papers that "require" that information.
"The parents need to come back and ask - WHY do you need this? Why does a doctor need this when it's on my insurance? The name should be sufficient," he says. "Does a daycare center, does a pre-school -- even an elementary school need that information?"
Det. Stoddard also says parents should find out *how that information is stored...or thrown away if you move. And always lock up the originals.
"I've seen reports where a mother would report her purse stolen and along with a credit card, checkbook is the birth certificate and social security cards, which have no business being in a purse," says the detective who has worked Columbus fraud cases for years.
Det. Stoddard also says postings on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a thief's resource to turning your child's life into his own.
For example, a post about your child starting the second grade and where is enough information for a thief to figure out your child's age and birth certificate.
"Everything we see in fraud and forgery is evolving," says Stoddard, who cautions parents to be vigilant. "As one wall goes up, another door opens so whatever I'm seeing today, we may see something new tomorrow."
The Federal Trade Commission says it's a good idea to check your child's credit report when they turn 16.
That way, there's enough time to fix any fraudulent use before your child becomes an adult.