Signs Your Child's ID May Have Been Stolen Group Claims 1 in 10 Children Victims
A 5-year-old child gets a credit card offer in the mail. A 9-year-old Cape Cod boy was recently mistakenly called for jury duty.
"At first he thought he was in trouble," his father told NewsCenter 5 at the time.
They are amusing stories that pop up from time to time and are frequently dismissed, but they could be signs of trouble – signs that a child’s identity has been stolen.
"Getting mail in your child's name is a problem," said Jamie May, the senior identity theft investigator for the free online service allclearid.com. "Credit card offers, offers to test drive new cards, those are definite red flags."
The Federal Trade Commission estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.
May said children are often an overlooked target.
"An alarming 10.7 percent of children we scanned had someone else using their Social Security number, so that's one in 10 children," May said.
Her company’s recent survey discovered that between 2009 and 2010 the number of children under the age of five whose personal information had been stolen jumped 105 percent, the highest growth rate of any group.
May said it’s critical to catch any potential security breach as early as possible, and recommended watching out for suspicious mail, double checking health insurance claims to be sure the treatments covered are legitimate, doing a free online check like the one offered by All Clear ID, and fiercely guarding personal information when it’s requested on by the companies and organizations with which you do business.
"A lot of times it's really not needed, so don't be afraid to question why they need it and don't give it out if you don't need to."
May said if you find out your child’s personal information has been compromised, it must be handled differently than when the victim is an adult.
"Most of the mechanisms in place for adults don't really work for children," she said.
She advised contacting the company or organization that has sent mail to your child and asking how they got their information. A potential breach should also be reported to credit reporting agencies.