Utah child ID theft laws best in nation


Child identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America. Let this serve as a reminder that parents should be careful when sharing their children’s name, date of birth or social security number with third parties.

Child identity theft occurs when their personal identifiers are stolen by an imposter and used in the application for credit, goods, benefits, services, licenses, or employment. The identity thief could be a family member, a friend, or a complete stranger.  They purposely target children because of the lengthy time between the theft and the discovery of the crime.   

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), child identity theft reports have more than doubled since 2006.  With 144,213 reported cases in 2010, the FTC has predicted that number to double again by 2013. 

Children are easy targets because identity thieves get an eight to ten year head start on them.  Most are not aware they have become victims until they apply for a driver license, employment, credit, the military, or college. 

While most child identity theft cases involve strangers, split families or broken homes account for others.  This is where one of the parents is the perpetrator and the crime is exposed by the other.  More often than not, the offending parent has bad credit and is unable to obtain rental housing or open a utility account.

Discovery often occurs:

  • When attempting to open a savings/checking account or college fund. In this scenario, the unoffending parent discovers that there is already an account under the child’s social security number or that the account is denied as a result of worthless checks on file at Telecheck or ChexSystems;
  • When pre-approved credit card offers come in the mail bearing the name of the child;
  • When credit cards, checks, invoices or bank statements not opened by an unoffending parent as a joint holder are received bearing the name of the child;
  • When debt collectors call and send letters about accounts not opened by the child;
  • When a child is denied a driver’s license because another individual has one with their social security number. The imposter may even have accumulated traffic tickets in their name;
  • While going through papers during a divorce proceeding or while straightening up the house (Parental identity theft);  
  • When a law enforcement officer knocks at your door with a warrant for your child’s arrest.

The FTC recommends vigilance when sharing personal information about your child and to report discrepancies to the agency.  Child identity theft is part of a growing number of scams and is the fastest growing segment of identity theft.

Taking the initiative to be proactive in the fight against child identity theft, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff recently implemented a new Child Identity Protection (CIP) program aimed at curtailing these crimes against children. 

Partnering with the TransUnion consumer reporting agency, Utahns can now protect their children against identity thieves by registering them with the state agency.  Upon registration, the child’s name and social security number are forwarded to the credit bureau where it is placed into a “high-risk” data base warning those who inquire not to issue credit or other benefits to applicants using that number.

“Parents can proactively reduce the incidence of identity theft for their children through our CIP program,” stated Richard Hamp, the assistant attorney general who helped create the program.  “Although the program does not completely eliminate the risk for past identity theft victims, it does reduce it.”

A common misconception among creditors and credit reporting agencies is that they have a method of verification when it comes to the age and identity of an individual.  Since most creditors rely strictly upon the written application when rendering a credit decision and the “age” of an individual becomes “official” with a credit reporting agency upon the first application for credit, said reliance can be fatal and lead to child identity theft.

“We commend the Utah Attorney General’s office for leading the fight against child identity theft,” stated TransUnion’s president of Consumer Services, Mark Marinko.  “TransUnion’s hope is that our joint efforts will build momentum for participation within the federal government, particularly the Social Security Administration, whose participation would significantly contribute to reducing child identity theft once and for all.” 

There are instances that may appear to be identity theft but are not. Receiving a pre-approved credit card offer might upset you as a parent but may only be the pitch of a potential creditor because you opened an account or college fund in your child’s name. A quick check of credit reports will help sort out the truth.

All three credit reporting agencies have automated systems for requesting credit reports. You should contact them semi-annually to request a credit report on your children. If you are advised that no credit report exists, your child is probably safe for the time being. 

Equifax can be contacted at (800) 685-1111; Experian can be contacted at (888) 397-3742; and Trans Union can be contacted at (800) 916-8800.

When someone requests your child’s social security number, ask questions before providing it, including why it is needed, who will have access to it, and how it will be safeguarded.  If you are not comfortable, refuse to provide the number.

If your child becomes a victim of identity theft, immediately file a police report with your local law enforcement agency.  Federal law mandates that credit reporting agencies investigate and assist identity theft victims.  Nevertheless, it all starts with a properly filed police report.  Without one, creditors, collection agencies, and credit reporting agencies are not required to act upon your complaint.

To learn more about the Child Identity Protection (CIP) program, please visit the Utah Attorney General’s website at https://cip.utah.gov.

To learn more about child identity theft and how to protect your child from becoming a victim, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.ftc.gov

“Until the Social Security Administration allows unfettered access to their consent based social security number verification service, children will continue to be at risk,” concluded Hamp.

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Protect Your Child From Identity Theft


Child identity theft occurs when a child’s identity is used by another person for the imposter’s personal gain. The perpetrator may be a family member or someone known by the family. It could also be a stranger who purposely targets children because of the lengthy time between the theft of the information and the discovery of the crime.  The Federal Trade Commission says child identity theft has doubled since 2006 with 21,344 cases reported in 2008.  In this tough economic time, it has been predicted that child identity theft will again double in 2010.

Children are often easy targets because thieves get an eight to ten year head start on them. In fact, most children who have had their identities stolen are not aware of it until they apply for credit, college, or employment.  Some of these child identity theft cases involve split families where one of the parents is the perpetrator with the crime being exposed by the other, unoffending parent. Discovery often comes:

  • When attempting to open a savings/checking account or college fund. In this scenario, the unoffending parent discovers that there is already an account under the child’s social security number or that the account is denied as a result of worthless checks on file at ChexSystems;
  • When numerous pre-approved credit offers come in the mail bearing the name of the child;
  • When credit cards, checks, invoices or bank statements not opened by an unoffending parent as a joint holder are received bearing the name of the child;
  • When collection agencies call and/or send letters about accounts not opened by the child;
  • When a child is denied a driver’s license because another individual has a license with their social security number. The imposter may even have accumulated traffic citations in the child’s name;
  • While going through papers during a divorce proceeding or while straightening up the house (Parental identity theft);
  • When a law enforcement officer knocks at your door with a warrant for the arrest of your child.

There are instances that may appear to be identity theft but are not. Receiving a pre-approved credit card offer might upset you as a parent but may only be the pitch of a potential creditor because you opened an account or college fund in your child’s name. A quick check of credit reports will help sort out the truth. Currently, all three credit reporting agencies have automated systems. You should contact them semi-annually to request a credit report on your children. If you are advised that no credit report exists, your child is safe for the time being.  Call Equifax at (800) 685-1111; Experian at (888) 397-3742; and Trans Union at (800) 916-8800.

A common misconception is that creditors and credit reporting agencies have a method of verification when it comes to the age and identity of an applicant.  Since most creditors rely strictly upon a written application when rendering a credit granting decision and the age of an individual becomes “official” with a credit reporting agency upon the first application for credit, said reliance can be fatal in relation to identity theft.

If your child becomes a victim of identity theft, you must immediately file a police report.  Federal law mandates that credit reporting agencies investigate and correct all identity theft issues.  Nevertheless, it all starts with a properly filed police report.  Without one, creditors, collection agencies, and/or credit reporting agencies are not required to act upon your complaint.

William E. Lewis Jr., is a credit repair expert with Credit Restoration Consultants and host of “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis” on AM 1470 WWNN, a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues.

http://www2.highlandstoday.com/content/2010/feb/21/lc-protect-your-child-from-identity-theft/columns-welewisjr/