CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - Aug 19, 2013) - While it seems like summer just began, back-to-school season is here. TransUnion, one of the three national credit reporting companies, wants to remind parents to work with their children to help minimize their child's risk of becoming a victim of child identity theft. As children head back to school, parents will be filling out forms with personal information and sending their kids off with information in their school bags. Children make a tempting target for identity thieves as theft of a child's identity may go undetected for years -- with possible serious consequences -- including damaged credit.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, more than 19,000 cases of child identity theft were reported in 2011, up from about 6,000 in 2003. It takes an average of 334 days to detect a case of child identity theft and 1 in 40 households with children under 18 have reported experiencing a case of child identity theft, says the 2012 Child Identity Theft Fraud Report released by the Identity Theft Assistance Center.
"In many cases the key elements required to open a credit account is a name and Social Security number. Since a child's Social Security number represents a 'clean slate' and has the potential to go undetected for years, it represents an appealing target to most identity theft thieves," said Julie Springer, TransUnion's vice president responsible for consumer education.
"Identity theft can affect your child's future credit and employment prospects if the perpetrator, who in many cases is a friend of the family or even a relative, obtains credit accounts using the child's Social Security number," said Springer. "The good news is there are steps parents can take to help minimize their child's risk of becoming a victim and signs to watch out for that could signal their child's identity has possibly been compromised or stolen."
To help safeguard your child's identity, TransUnion recommends the following to parents:
- Be mindful of the personal information that your child is carrying. Make sure their information is kept in a safe spot and not just tossed in the bottom of a school bag. Help your child memorize their personal information.
- Remind your child that they should never give out their personal information, especially to a stranger, and it should only be given to a teacher or other person they trust and know.
- Consider hand-delivering directly to the school any forms with personal information or medical records instead of sending them with your child.
Possible warning signs of child identity theft include:
- The child begins to receive suspicious mail, like pre-approved credit cards and other financial offers normally sent to adults, in their name.
- The parent tries to open a financial account for the child, but finds one already exists or learns the application is denied because of a poor credit history. A credit report already exists in their name. If the child has one, they may have been targeted already, since typically, an application for credit, a credit account, or a public record starts the compilation of a consumer credit file.
In the event that identity thieves may have targeted your child, TransUnion can help. After completing our secure Child Identity Theft Inquiry Form found at https://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/credit-disputes/fraud-victim-resources/child-identity-theft-inquiry-form.page, TransUnion can investigate the existence of a potential credit file in your child's name using the information provided. After TransUnion's search is complete, they will respond using the email address provided. If TransUnion locates a file in the child's name, they will ask the parents for additional information in order to proceed with steps to protect the child from any impact associated with this fraudulent activity.
For more information on child identity theft, visit www.TransUnion.com.
TransUnion Interactive, Inc. is a consumer subsidiary of TransUnion. As a global leader in credit and information management, TransUnion creates advantages for millions of people around the world by gathering, analyzing and delivering information. For businesses, TransUnion helps improve efficiency, manage risk, reduce costs and increase revenue by delivering comprehensive data and advanced analytics and decisioning. For consumers, TransUnion provides the tools, resources and education to help manage their credit health and achieve their financial goals. Through these and other efforts, TransUnion is working to build stronger economies worldwide. Founded in 1968 and headquartered in Chicago, TransUnion employs associates in more than 33 countries on five continents. www.transunion.com. Follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TransUnion.