Cyberthieves Have A New Target: Children

by Priya Anand, Wall Street Journal

coppa-ftc-children-compliantTo the list of things we wish we could shield children from, add identity theft.

Cyberthieves target children because their identities offer a clean slate with which to apply for bank accounts, credit cards or loans, government benefits and tax breaks. Criminals will often combine a child’s Social Security number with a fake date of birth and address to avoid suspicion, experts say.

Making matters worse, while adults can learn quickly that their identities have been stolen, say, after being rejected for a credit card or loan, it can take years to find out that a child has been a victim of identity theft. Families often find out a child’s identity was stolen when applying for college loans or scholarships, or after tax returns are filed in the child’s name, says Eva Velasquez, president of the Identity Theft Resource Center, a San Diego-based nonprofit that helps identity-theft victims.

When those children become financially independent, an early and undetected identity theft can create huge barriers for them, Ms. Velasquez says. “They don’t have the [good and legitimate] history behind them to fall back on.”

Continue reading on the Wall Street Journal website »

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