Fraudsters can steal children’s identities to create fake credit profiles, expert warns

915,000 children were victims of identity fraud in 2022
Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 2:58 PM CDT
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(InvestigateTV) — The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has received more than 550,000 reports of identity theft through the first half of 2023, including cases where children were the victims.

Dr. David Maimon, director of the Evidence Based Cyber Security Group at Georgia State University, said scammers use children’s personal information to make fake credit profiles that they then sell online.

“The service is usually offered for sale for folks who simply cannot afford it because their social security number is associated with low credit score. So, what the criminals offer is this CPN service, the credit profile service. Which, according to them includes using a number, like a social security number, which allows you to simply open a new profile,” Maimon explained. “What they don’t tell you is oftentimes, those numbers they use come from kids, folks who are not familiar or not protecting their social security number. Folks who their social security number is not tied with any credit score. And so, they’re using it and then tie it with a new name.”

Maimon said this crime can easily go unnoticed until a warning sign appears, such as an overdue bill in a child’s name for an unrecognized account.

“Think about it! If you have kids – 7, 6 years old – you’re not supposed to use their social security number for pretty much anything, other than sending them to school or making sure that they have health insurance. So, people are simply unaware of how vulnerable those social security numbers are,” Maimon said.

The FTC recommends that parents contact the three credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, to ask for a manual check of their child’s Social Security number.

After the check, Maimon suggests freezing the credit so it cannot be used by bad actors.

He said credit bureaus will place a freeze on credit for free and will block anyone other than the parent. Removing the freeze can be done easily and quickly when and if it is needed.

The FTC has articles on how to protect children from identity theft and information on what to do if their identity has been compromised.