Important lessons to be learned from infant identity theft case
A three-week old baby boy in Oregon State is one of the latest and youngest victim of identity theft. A drug addict is believed to have stolen baby Andrew’s medical records in order to obtain narcotic pain medication. The parents were first notified of the crime when they received a medical collections notice in their baby’s name for $125.
Child and infant identity theft is sadly becoming increasingly common. In Andrew’s case, medical records were stolen by the identity thief. Other children have school records, sports team records and other sensitive records stolen for identity theft purposes. In the most depressing cases, a parent or relative uses a child’s identity to replace their own destroyed credit. Identity theft crimes against children often go unnoticed largely because parents are not aware of the risk.
Here are some important tips regarding children and identity theft:
• Faking age – You would think a bank would notice a credit card being granted to a 3 year old, but this isn’t the case. Once an identity thief opens an account in a child’s name, their credit report is “started.” A birth date is recorded by the credit bureaus based on the information provided on the application. Since there is no external verification of the consumer’s age, it is easy for thieves to make the child appear much older on their credit report that they actually are.
• Credit reports – Parents can check their children’s credit report records whenever they suspect fraud by contact the credit bureau fraud departments. Children should have no credit records (aka: a thin file). If suspicious records appear, work with the credit bureaus to investigate.
• Protect sensitive information – Question the use of your child’s Social Security number as identification. These numbers are often used by medical offices, dental offices, schools and more. Small offices may not have security precautions in place to keep this data safe from theft. Also, keep your child’s Social Security card, birth certificate and more in a secure location.
• Report the crime – Don’t be afraid to report the crime, even in situations where you know the person who has stolen your child’s identity. Reporting the identity theft to the credit bureaus and police quickly will greatly improve your ability to restore the child’s damaged credit. Without reporting the crime, it may be impossible to repair the damages and remove the fraudulent records.
Do you have any more tips for parents trying to keep their children safe from identity theft? Share your ideas and feedback in the comments section below.