You're Never Too Young To Have Your Identity Stolen

The NYT has an article about Gabriel Jimenez, a 25-year-old who has been battling an identity thief for half his life. His SSN was stolen and used by an illegal immigrant when he was 11, and it’s been a nightmare ever since.

Child ID theft, while still a tiny portion of ID theft crime, is on the rise, according to the NYT:

Children’s identities are used in much the same way as those stolen from adults, as a basis for credit cards, bank accounts, utility service, insurance, even employment. In some instances, the culprit may live the life of a model citizen working, paying bills on time and providing few red flags to indicate that there is a problem.

In others cases, they may run up tens of thousands of dollars in bills, work and fail to pay taxes or develop a criminal history — with none of that becoming apparent to the victims until they are young adults.

“Protect your child’s information as carefully as you protect your own,” said Linda Foley, who founded the Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego. “Jealously guard Social Security numbers and only give them out when vitally necessary.”

Child ID theft can be difficult to detect, so what should you do? Run out and get your kid’s credit report? Nah.

Watching the mail is the best thing you can do. Look for indications that someone may be using your child’s ID. “If all of a sudden your child starts receiving unsolicited offers of credit and they’re 6, think twice,” she [a spokesperson for the FTC] said. “Of course, if you get contacted by debt collectors, that’s an obvious red flag.”

Once you have reason to suspect that someone is using the kid’s credit, it’s time to get their credit report. For more info on stopping ID theft, check out the FTC’s ID Theft site.

Never Too Young to Have Your Identity Stolen [NYT via CL&P]
(Photo:Getty)

Comments

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  1. zentec says:

    At what point does the credit reporting and credit granting industries figure it out that the system is broken?

    I really think it’s time for every citizen to simply file the free 90 fraud watch on their profiles until the mess gets cleaned-up

  2. banned says:

    If somebody is a model citizen paying bills on time, its helping my credit and are more than welcome to use my identity.

  3. Amy Alkon says:

    Well, there’s a genius comment, Roc.

    And a suggestion for California residents:

    Freeze your credit.

    [www.privacy.ca.gov]

  4. acambras says:

    A really sad thing is when you read news stories about children’s identities being stolen by deadbeat parents — when mom and/or dad take out a credit card in Junior’s name since the grown-ups’ credit is shot to hell.

  5. SadSam says:

    Why are these folks (illegals participating in id theft and ruining lives) still in this country? These folks should be deported.

  6. Thrust says:

    Combine two solutions and get one SUPER solution…

    Solution 1: ID theft is punishable by death.
    Solution 2: Illegal entry of the country is punishable by death.

    There is no moral/legal/legitimate reason ANYONE would be entitled to a fake identity unless they are under Witness Protection (in which case the Govt knows its a fake)… So if an illegal immigrant (the 75% most likely user of a fake/stolen identity) is busted with a stolen identity, they should be killed twice.

  7. Observer2121 says:

    At what point do the credit reporting agencies become liable once they are aware of an identity theft? These companies need an incentive to correct their system, right now they could care less because their are no financial consequences.

  8. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @SadSam: Because thats “inhumane” to seperate them from the other illegals. Plus we provide so many benifits to illegals why would they ever want to go back?

    Plus most states where there is a large illegal population has politicians that are of latin decent and they feel its wrong to send them back. Whats pathetic is I can go to any number of local parks and buy a SSN, drivers license info almost anything to assume someone elses identity.

  9. acambras says:

    @Thrust:

    Solution 1: ID theft is punishable by death.

    Solution 2: Illegal entry of the country is punishable by death.

    Jeez, dial it back a notch, will ya? And if you’re looking for a thread that’s a referendum on illegal immigration, I bet there’s one on Lou Dobbs’ website.

  10. @acambras: I had a couple of these cases as a lawyer and they never, ever, ever, ever want to sue the deadbeat or bring them in in any way. Which I understand because suing a relative sucks, but it’s very frustrating to try to clean up the mess when the client won’t finger the relative who stole their ID, and sometimes it’s simply not possible.

    In one case where it was virtually impossible I busted my ass anyway because it was a mother and child whose IDs had both been stolen by the abusive ex-husband and they were terrified that if his name was even mentioned to the creditors or in court, he would come kill them. Even working with the local abuse-prevention agencies we had a helluva a time helping her out, and in the end she agreed to payment plans with most of them, since the creditors, credit agencies, etc., were TOTALLY UNINTERESTED in the fact that her husband was trying to kill her and had restraining orders and whatnot and refused to do anything about any of it unless she named him in court and brought a case, putting her at serious risk for retaliation. Even the IRS gives abused spouses a break!

  11. enm4r says:

    I’m curious to see how ID theft ranks among those in the military. Having grown up and been a part of this culture, I guess you call it, your SSN is used for everything and thrown around left and right. I remember renting movies when I was a kid by using my dad’s SSN. I can’t think of any document, card, or piece of paper that had anything to do with me, that didn’t have it plastered on the top, and not just the last 4. I don’t think I ever heard of, or know anyone in the military who’s had this happen, so I’m curious to see at what rate, and if it’s lower than the civilian population who work so hard to keep their SSN a secret.

  12. EnderVR46 says:

    Mine wasn’t stolen, but one of the minimum wage data entry workers fulfilling their duty so happily, made a mistake on my report when I was 15. Got my SSN mixed up with someone else, changed around my date of birth, and even went so far as to mess up my middle name. They added a line from a Best Buy credit card.

    When I was 18 and trying to buy a car with my parents as co-signers it was discovered, and took me until I was 22 to clear it up.

    Once I finally convinced them of my real DOB it wasn’t that hard, but still required more work and proof than it should have.

    The credit reporting agencies should be held to much higher standards than they are. That’s for damn sure.

  13. Negative says:

    @ENIM4R

    The military stopped using SS# for everything around 1996. I was in basic training when they told us to stop putting our SS#’s on stuff.

  14. ill pay for an honest and hard working ID thief to help build my credit in return for credentials and a way of living…win-win situation

  15. enm4r says:

    @Negative: My SSN is still on everything, from my bright pink medical record, and as of 2-3 years ago, I was still using my ID card (so they could verify SSN) to rent movies on base. It was also on every eval I’ve ever had.

    I wouldn’t know now, but I’d assume it’s on my LES as well, though I could be wrong, and I’ve been out of the loop for a few years.

  16. DTWD says:

    I was in BMT in 2004 and they had us put our last four on all of our issued items.

  17. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @DamnThoseWiffyDogs: Yep still the same as when I went thru BMT in 1993.

  18. Negative says:

    The main thing I remember was that we didn’t put SS#’s on our mail anymore and they cut it down to our last 4 for pretty much everything else. Maybe it didn’t stick or I’m forgetting some things. I wouldn’t be suprised if they are still putting them on the LES’s though. I’ve been out for 4 years so my memory is getting a bit fuzzy.

  19. Negative says:

    Also, I remember they made a point about SS#’s being an identity theft issue and that’s why they were trying not to use them anymore. Like I said before, I guess it didn’t stick.

  20. Thrust says:

    @acambras: Ok. Try to deny that my solution wouldn’t work. Don’t gimme no BS about rights, anyone in a country illegally has none. But if we are talking about someone being able to totally ruin another person’s life by pretending to be them, I think there isn’t a penalty high enough for that. Death is about as strong as it can go. So would executing people for identity theft solve the problem? The assets of the executed could be used for reparations to the affected parties, and you would no longer have two Jimmy H. Smiths using the same SIN, so cleaning up the mess is easier. Prisons are overcrowded enough.

  21. acambras says:

    @Thrust:

    Yeah — start killing people. That makes sense.

    I thought you were Canadian. Aren’t you guys supposed to be less violent and more reasonable that Americans?

  22. 12monkeys says:

    illegal aliens wont need to steal identities soon because Bank of America and Wells Fargo already open accounts and give loans to these people without a social security number.

  23. Thrust says:

    @acambras: MORE violent, but less prone to do anything about it since our beer tastes good, and usually does the trick.

    Also I am not what you call typical for canadian (Though I do say EH, I never use Hoser).
    I’m pragmatic, cynical, distrusting, short tempered, methodical, probably insane to some small degree, surprisingly content with life despite how shitty the world is… I don’t play well with others, can’t stand anyone of the “gangsta” mentality, and wish to rule the world.

  24. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    Um, last time I checked, theft, forgery and impersonation weren’t parts of “model” citizenry…

    And speaking of which, you have to actually BE a citizen to live the life of a model one. ;)

    This is just another of many reasons why people who are here illegally have NO RIGHT to be here. And for anyone who wants to say they all work hard and have good intentions…well…we all know what the road to hell is paved with!

  25. Thrust says:

    See, I’m with Pink. They have no right to be in the country. It’s not their country, they have no rights in it, so whatever you do is legal. And since border jumpers typically must be arrested eight times before they care enough to jail them, why not SHOOT them and eliminate 75% of the demand for fake credentials. Real immigrants have no need for the fake ID (unless they’re planning on doing something illegal), and they are here fairly. The ones that AREN’T supposed do be here are the problem, not simply all foreigners.

  26. banned says:

    I am all for punishment for any id thieves, but what happened to “give me your tired, your poor…”

  27. 12monkeys says:

    @rocnrule:Think about where thet phrase is written…it’s not written on a bathroom wall in some border town gas station. I don’t remember seeing it when I was walking across the overpass from Mexico, and I dont remember it on those beware of “running mexican family crossing” signs all over our freeways down there. I think that the phrase was intended for people who came here the right way.

  28. infinite8s says:

    @Thrust, 12Monkeys: Illegal immigrants are still people. The constitution guarantees basic rights including due process to all people, not all citizens (go read it yourself – it’s Amendment 14 – notice how the statement about life,liberty and property applies to all persons, not just citizens, whereas the previous statement applies to citizens)

  29. 12monkeys says:

    @infinite8s: You mean this ?
    “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    Maybe you had better read the words leading up to that statement……….
    “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
    So to me the term “People” refers to CITIZENS! remember the phrase WE THE PEOPLE.Do you think that they meant everyone when the original Constitution was written?No siree they did not even consider blacks or native americans as people. So don’t lecture on the Constitution until YOU have read it.

  30. RogerDucky says:

    Actually, the main problem with identity theft is twofold:
    1. Recent exceptionally easy credit that just needed a valid SSN (Name, address, etc. need not be right) to get approval for crazy amounts of credit made it pretty tempting for people to steal your identity. Also, lenders are now leaning heavily on credit scores to determine if you are a good candidate because of the volume of credit applications they need to slog through due to said easy credit.

    2. “Credit fixing” agencies that basically disputed all negative marks on the credit reports whether or not it’s actually supposed to be there made credit reporting agencies really suspicious of anyone that tries to dispute anything on a credit report. So, now they need to see ridiculous amounts of proof before they’ll budge on any challenges to the credit reports.

    3. In most illegal aliens’ case: Banks’ unwillingness to turn away good customers who make them money. I remember there being a news story about a woman whose identity was stolen by a man, and when she confronted the bank about that, the bank told her they “couldn’t” do anything to help her since said customer was charging and paying off the credit card properly.

  31. synergy says:

    I knew an illlegal guy who used the SSID of his nephew to work here legally. He didn’t have to worry because he had his sister’s permission and the kid was, like, 12, 13 years younger than him.

    How depressing. I just realized this kid either turned 18 last year or this year…