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]