Connecticut Better Business Bureau is warning parents to be on the lookout for the signs that point to their child’s identity being compromised or stolen.
In a chilling development in the realm of identity theft, hundreds of unscrupulous businesses are illegally establishing lines of credit by finding and selling what appear to be inactive Social Security numbers online. However, most of them are reportedly assigned to children under the age of 18. The misuse of this information may lead to significant debts for children, that in some cases, may take years or decades, or ultimately be impossible to pay off.
Last year alone, 8.1 million adult Americans became victims of ID theft, resulting in the loss of $37 billion, according to a 2011 report from Javelin Strategy and Research. Unfortunately, it is impossible to determine how many children have fallen victim, because in most cases, the ID theft goes undiscovered until they enter the job market. However, the identity theft monitoring company, Debix, examined 40,000 cases of tainted identities, and found that an alarming ten percent of them involved children.
Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti, says parents must be proactive to protect their children from the crime.
“It is extremely important that parents take precautions to ensure the safety of their child’s identity to prevent years of problems down the road.”
BBB urges parents to follow these important steps to secure their children’s identity:
Be aware of how to obtain your child’s credit report - Getting access to your child’s records is actually a different process than obtaining your own. Children’
According to NBC TODAY, if TransUnion says there is no report, odds are good that your child is in the clear. But if there is a report — or you have a specific reason to believe your child is a victim — you'll want to obtain reports from the nation’s two other major credit bureaus, Experian and Equifax.
Recognize the signs of trouble - Watch out for red flags that indicate there might be a problem, such as your son or daughter receiving pre-approved credit card offers or calls from collection agencies.
Know what to do if you suspect that your child has fallen victim - According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), every parent should check their child’s credit report by their 16th birthday to leave sufficient time to fix errors and activity before their child goes off to college and tries to obtain financial aid. If suspicious activity arises, parents must contact all three credit bureaus, request a report immediately and consider placing a credit freeze.
Additional resources are available at http://www.identitytheftcouncil.org/
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Founded in 1928, Connecticut BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. For more advice on finding companies and businesses, start your search with trust at www.bbb.org.