Experts warn that identity theft involving children is a growing problem in our society. Unfortunately, this doesn’t come as a complete surprise. But this may: experts say that schools are increasingly to blame.
According to The Huffington Post’s Gerry Smith, “Across the country, schools have become conduits for children’s pristine Social Security numbers, which are increasingly falling into the hands of credit-hungry identity thieves.”
Consider this: In El Paso, Texas, a hacker gained access to the computer network of a local school district and discovered a database of roughly 63,000 students’ social security numbers. And that is just one example.
Data breaches leave users 6 times more likely to become victims of identity theft, according to Javelin Research. That’s why when a breach occurs parents are urged to monitor their child’s credit. “But credit reports only turn up 1 percent of fraud on children’s credit histories because thieves pair children’s Social Security numbers with new names and birth dates,” writes Gerry Smith
Privacy experts are accusing schools of exposing students to identity theft for no reason by insisting on gathering this sensitive data in central databases with insufficient security. “This is making a much bigger honey pot for people with malevolent purposes to gain access to children’s information,” Joel Reidenberg, a professor at Fordham University School of Law, tells Gerry Smith. “It’s a meltdown waiting to happen.”
Many cases involving children go undetected for years, which makes it difficult to determine the exact number of victims. However, based on a one year study, ID Analytics has estimated that 140,000 children are the victims of identity theft each year.
Often when victims turn 18, they discover that their credit has been destroyed, which prevents them from taking out loans or even renting apartments.
In some states parents can refuse to divulge their child’s social security number and opt instead for a different identifying number. If this is the case where you happen to live, we strongly recommend it. After all, the identity you save may be your own child’s!
Talk To Us! Have you or your children ever been the victim of identity theft–that you know of?
Image source: Tamarac Talk