Child Identity Theft Revealed in Denied COVID-19 Benefits
Child Identity Theft Awareness Day is more important in 2020 than ever; parents and industry leaders are encouraged to act now
***This release was issued by the Identity Theft Resource Center on September 21, 2020***
Today, the Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC), a nationally recognized non-profit organization established to support victims of identity crime, and SAS®, the leader in analytics, join forces to promote Child Identity Theft Awareness Day.
The ITRC has received numerous reports of child identity theft in 2020, one of which includes two parents denied COVID-19-related stimulus benefits, leading to the discovery that an identity thief was using their 2-year-old son’s Social Security number. It’s one of many powerful stories heard by the ITRC in its 20-year history, each one illustrating a mostly invisible problem plaguing children of all ages.
According to a 2018 study by Javelin Strategy & Research, more than one million children fell victim to identity theft in 2017, with losses totaling $2.67 billion. The study further determined that more than two-thirds of child victims were ages 7 or younger, while 20 percent were in the range of 8 to 12 years old.
“If I could recommend one action for parents, it would be to freeze your child’s credit,” said Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center. “The process varies some from credit bureau to credit bureau, but it’s not difficult. I promise it takes far less time and effort to freeze your child’s credit than to remediate a fraud case after the fact.”
In 2019, 15.1 billion records – many of them highly sensitive and personal – were exposed through data breaches. The ITRC Data Breach Report documented 2.3 million students’ data exposed in education data breaches in 2019. It is criminals’ commoditization of stolen data that fuels this growing fraud epidemic. Ironically, data is also key to stopping it.
“The data and technology exist to determine digital identity to a greater degree of certainty than ever before,” said Brooke Fortson, ITRC Board Member and Sr. Manager of Global Product Marketing at SAS. “If businesses and organizations leverage it in the right way, they can better protect consumers of all ages – and deliver a better customer experience.”
The ITRC is aware of the vast amount of data available for cybercriminals leading to other child identity theft victims like a 20-year-old college student applying for financial aid learning she had 15 fraudulent credit accounts taken out over 13 years, or even the single mother uncovering a four-year work and earnings history attached to her 12-year-old daughter’s Social Security number.
Parents should take these actions to safeguard their children’s identities:
- Watch for red flags like a medical bill or IRS notice in a child’s name.
- If you notice something suspicious, act immediately to verify whether it’s a simple mistake or an indication of something more sinister.
- Most importantly, consider freezing your child’s credit.
Consumers and victims can receive free support and guidance from a knowledgeable live-advisor by calling 888.400.5530 or visiting www.idtheftcenter.org to live-chat.
About the Identity Theft Resource Center®
Founded in 1999, the Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC) is a nationally recognized non-profit organization established to support victims of identity theft in resolving their cases, and to broaden public education and awareness in the understanding of identity theft, data breaches, cybersecurity, scams/fraud and privacy issues. Through public and private support, the ITRC provides no-cost victim assistance and consumer education through its contact center, website, social media channels, live-chat feature and ID Theft Help app. For more information, visit: https://www.idtheftcenter.org/.
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