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Children becoming targets for ID theft

June 27, 2012 9:13:27 PM PDT
An alarming trend in identity theft is becoming more and more prevalent -- adults are stealing the identities of children. A new survey of 27,000 children signed up for identity protection, found one out of 10 were already victims. What's even more disturbing, often times neither the children nor their parents are even aware of it.

Like a lot of children, 10-year-old Reilly loves reading the Harry Potter books. She sees a connection between what happened to her and what happened to Harry Potter, except her Voldermort was an identity thief.

"You're being put into a trap; it's really hard to get out," Reilly said.

Twice, thieves have stolen her Social Security number. Someone used Reilly's number to start home gas and electricity service, then defaulted on the bill. The other incident happened before she was even born.

"There's no checks; there's no checks by the banks, there no checks by the credit agencies, there's no checks by Social Security Administration the first time a number is used erroneously," Michelle Dennedy, McAfee's vice president and chief privacy officer, said. "Someone was able to use acquire store card and get store credit under her Social Security number before it was even issued."

Dennedy also happens to be Reilly's mother.

"I travelled the world literally looking at policies and technology solutions to protect against these types of crimes; so when it happened to my own daughter I felt, gosh, as a parent I've been falling down on the job," Dennedy said.

A check of 27,000 children by AllClear ID found almost 11 percent have had their Social Security numbers stolen, up one-half of a percent from the year before. Those numbers are used to obtain credit, lease an apartment or even buy a house. Some of those homes have even ended up in foreclosure, leaving a cloud over a child's Social Security number.

Most children won't even realize it until they turn 18 and apply for their first credit card.

"Child identity theft is a very real and enticing crime; they're not after the $6 of tooth fairy money for your kid, they're after your child's clean record," Dennedy said.


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