Is Someone Impersonating Your Child?

SmartMoney reports on the threat of underage identity theft; 5% of FTC complaints in 2005 were about victims 18 years old or younger. Children are often perfect targets, because they have social security numbers that are largely unused–which means unchecked–until they’re old enough to apply for their first job or credit card.

…shortly after [Kristen Smith's] 16-year-old son started a summer gig at a local car dealership… his new employer conducted a routine background check that returned shocking news: A man living in Phoenix was using his Social Security number. Even more shocking was the discovery by the local police department that there was more than one perpetrator. In 1994, a man from Pennsylvania with a DUI arrest on his record had been using Smith’s son’s Social Security number as well.

Of course, credit monitoring agencies are hoping to cash in on this new threat by offering special monitoring services–think of it as the credit world’s attempt at creating a “restless leg syndrome” revenue stream. But you can handle the monitoring on your own with a little effort. Adam Levin, chairman of Identity Theft 911, suggests that parents remember to include their children in their periodic credit reviews. And a spokesman from the Social Security Administration says parents can call the SSA directly to check whether any work history has been reported for a child’s number.

All three major credit reporting bureaus have different responses to reports of a stolen number, so check the table at the end of the SmartMoney article for details on what you can request from each one.

Online resources:
Identity Theft Resource Center
Identity Theft 911

Protecting Your Child’s Identity [SmartMoney]

(Photo: Getty)

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  1. ThyGuy says:

    The only comfort about this is that 99.9% of the children have their credit score wiped. Recently, where I’m at, a lady was using her child’s SSC to buy all kinds of stuff, then claimed, over and over, that someone was using her child’s identity so it would get wiped. Took five times before anyone noticed something fishy was going on.

    To whoever thinks this is a victim less crime:
    1. The parents go through red tape hell to wipe their child’s credit back to default.
    2. The businesses that got ripped are just screwed.
    3. Getting caught doing this is far worst than if you were to do it to a adult. I’m sure there are at least three different felonies involved. I’m not sure though.

  2. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    Hey umm I hate to break it to you but Restless Leg Syndrom is real. My wife has it and it hurts her so bad she cries at night . She has to take Requip to get any semblance of a good nights sleep. So um yeah but taking somones identity is bogus.

  3. Cowboys_fan says:

    Perhaps they should issue a ssn immediately upon birth, and report to the credit bureau, that way the credit bureau will always know how old you are. Or make it a number where the dob is an included part of the number. I’d of course rather see no credit bureaus at all, but that will never happen.

  4. andrewsmash says:

    If we weren’t so worried about chasing terrorists and drug-dealers, we might actually devote federal agents to dealing with this issue. How simple would it be to set up a system that automatically tracked ssn inquiries, and when the same number came in from two extremely different locations, an alarm would sound? It’s not like your social security number is all that secure nowadays anyway, and it’s much easier to keep track of it’s out in the open.

  5. a_m_m_b says:

    better still, give ID Theft the same penalty as horse stealing had in the Old West.

  6. lincolnparadox says:


    Does anyone know if the LifeLock service is worth it? I mean, what they do you could theoretically do on your own. But, they also insure you for up to a million.

    I’m just wondering if anyone took the plunge.

  7. asherchang says:

    @a_m_m_b: what’s that?

  8. Tankueray says:

    @asherchang: Horse thieves were hanged.