With the rise in foreclosures, bankruptcies, long-term unemployment and other recession-related financial disasters, some desperate people have resorted to stealing the identities of children to apply for credit.
It is estimated that as many as 400,000 kids per year are having their pristine credit histories hijacked — a crime that doesn’t impact them today, but can have devastating financial repercussions when they reach adulthood.
Adam Levin of Credit.com reports, “The crime generally goes undetected unless and until the child applies for a license, a credit card, a loan for college or, perhaps, requires a medical procedure. When they do, if their identity has been compromised — by someone having used their stolen SSN to set up credit accounts, obtain free medical care or throw police off of his trail, for example — bad things begin to happen almost instantly.”
Even when a teen-turned-adult does eventually discover the crime, when it is the parent, foster parent or other guardian who has used the identity for financial gain, it often goes unreported because, says Levin, “of the very human inclination not to ‘rat out’ a parent or family member.”
You may not have considered the possibility that your child’s credit has already been established (and possibly destroyed), but if a financially desperate family member has had access to your child’s social security number, it may be too late. If you are curious or concerned, TransUnion.com provides a secure online form to help you discover if there is any credit activity related to your child’s social security number and date of birth.
For more information, visit businessinsider.com.