Identity Theft: Increasingly an Affliction of the Young

creditcard-2a.jpgNew statistics from the FTC on identity theft illustrate some interesting trends. From the AP:

Identity thieves are increasingly targeting children. Identity theft complaints involving youngsters under 18 have nearly doubled since 2003, up from 6,512 to more than 11,600 last year, the Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday.

While they make up a small percentage — about 5 percent — of the total ID theft complaints, the FTC’s Jay Miller says young people are attractive to cons because they may not be as savvy about safeguarding personal information and could easily fall prey while surfing the Internet. . . .

Houk’s friend was stunned to learn that someone had fraudulently opened a bank account in her 12-year-old daughter’s name. The con artist then opened about a half dozen credit card accounts, declared bankruptcy, had it written off and left the youngster with a mess of legal hassles.

“It’s an easy thing to do. Once they get a valid Social Security number, they just go to town,” said Houk, acting chief executive of the center, which is a private organization that distributes information about identity theft.

The most victimized age group for identity theft was the 18-to-29 category. The FTC said that category registered 29 percent of the complaints, or more than 70,200.

Last summer, I blogged about a 22-month old toddler who was victimized by identity theft. My guess as to why kids are increasingly targeted is because in many cases, it would take a lot longer for the identity theft to be discovered. Many people learn that they are an identity theft victim when they seek to obtain a loan or credit card — something kids don’t often do. And parents often don’t think that they need to be checking their children’s credit reports, but perhaps they should be.

Of course, kids are not an entirely perfect target for identity theives because kids don’t have much of a credit history to exploit. But with credit card companies and others nearly tripping over themselves to grant credit, it’s no surprise that the identity thieves are able to obtain credit in children’s names.

Related Posts

1. Solove, Free Credit Reports: My Exciting Adventure (Concurring Opinions) (October 2005)

2. Solove, Youngest ID Theft Victim? (PrawfsBlawg) (July 2005)

3. Solove, Why Identity Theft Isn’t Pretty (PrawfsBlawg) (July 2005)

4. Solove, Identity Theft Fears and Online Shopping (PrawfsBlawg) (June 2005)

5. Solove, Identity Thief Professors (PrawfsBlawg) (June 2005)

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1 Response

  1. Bruce says:

    I’m puzzled on the mechanics of this scam — isn’t a date of birth typically associated with your SSN on credit reports? I doubt a credit card company would even issue a card to a 12-year-old, at least not without a parent co-signer. Perhaps what is happening is that the card issuer checks credit reports, finds no entry for the SSN in question, and then accepts everything the fraudster claims re: DOB, address, etc. What information do credit reporting agencies typically have about you if you have a SSN, but have never obtained credit from anyone?