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June 28, 2011

Identity theft - the latest summer risk for kids?

Its summer.  I know this due to the repeated "I'm bored" comments I hear from my nine year old.

Summer also brings additional risk of identity theft to children.  Thanks to the additional free time caused by the long days of summer, children spend more time in front of the computer or on their internet capable cell phones.  With this additional time online comes the additional risk of identity theft.

Why would an identity thief want to steal the identity of a child?  Basically because the child's credit history is a blank slate and can be misused longer than an adult's credit history, since the kid is not out doing the things that cause identity theft victims to learn of the theft of their identity, like applying for credit.

“The younger the victim, the more time these thieves have to exploit the child’s identity,” said Sandy Chalmers, Administrator of the Wisconsin Division of Trade and Consumer Protection. “Identity theft against a child can go undetected for years and do a lot of damage to their good name.”

So, parents, please warn your kids not to give out personal information online unless and only if its to a reliable source.  And, be sure to monitor what your kids are doing online.  A little bit of prevention can prevent a lot of problems later on.

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