Child identity theft soars: Law enforcement expert tells parents how to protect their children
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SOURCE Robert P. Chappell, Jr.
"My 5-year-old son owns a house, a car and WHAT?"
ROANOKE, Va., Feb. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Child identity theft is a fast-growing crime with the number of under-age victims estimated to be as high as 500,000 a year, far exceeding adult identity theft. Criminals target children because kids have a clean credit record or no credit file, and the theft can go undetected for years-usually until the child applies for a summer job, a student loan, or a credit card.
"Until that time, a thief can be racking up debt with credit cards and loans in the child's name," says Robert P. Chappell, Jr., a law enforcement officer and identity theft expert. "Once the crime is discovered and stopped, the child can be held responsible for the debt and unable to obtain legitimate credit for months or even years."
In his new book, Child Identity Theft: What Every Parent Needs to Know, Chappell describes who commits these crimes and the many reasons why.
"Identity theft is unrelated to income level," he warns, "and a theft can begin with information as basic as a child's name, address, and date of birth."
His book reveals how someone can access information from school records, medical office records, dental records, church records, a lost or stolen purse or wallet, a home invasion, discarded documents, the Internet, and by other methods. He explains what action needs to be taken if a child's identity has been stolen, and offers resources for dealing with the financial and emotional implications.
Throughout his book he provides preventive measures for parents to protect their children's identity. A first step is to obtain a free annual report of their own credit rating. To discover if credit has been used in a child's name, they should contact one of the credit rating agencies: Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion.
Additional actions he recommends include:
Educate your children on the risks of giving personal information to anyone.
Do not put your child's social security number (SSN) on school, medical, insurance, and other forms.
Don't have your child's birthdate or SSN in your wallet or purse or at work.
Tell your children not to place their birthdate or address on social networking sites.
Warn your children about offers they receive by phone, mail or email that could be scams.