Identity theft scammers target innocent children

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More than ever, our financial identity is as essential as our physical one. 

Although, alarmingly, a new trend has surfaced, preying on the most vulnerable and unlikely targets: children. 

It may seem unlikely that identity thieves would focus on young kids, many of whom don’t even have an allowance.

However, the truth is very alarming. Crooks are making considerable sums of money by exploiting children’s identities, potentially derailing their financial future before it even begins.

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A mother shows a daughter something on her laptop (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

The tactics scammers use to exploit children’s information

Scammers deploy a variety of tactics to acquire sensitive information about minors. They may comb through social media, sift through data leaks, peruse public databases, directly interact with minors on digital forums or purchase data from the dark web

TOP IDENTITY THEFT SCAMS TO AVOID

How children’s identities become criminals’ blank checks

Children’s identities are particularly appealing to criminals due to their clean financial slate. Armed with just a handful of personal details, these fraudsters can take over a child’s social media presence, divert mail, secure retail credit cards or gain access to financial resources by altering passwords — all under the radar of unsuspecting parents.

This form of identity theft can go undetected for years, only coming to light when young adults face rejected loan applications or denied benefits, a rude awakening to a problem they never knew existed.

ID THEFT scam 2

A mother is on her laptop while her daughter plays nearby  (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

The tip of the Iceberg when it comes to child identity theft

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported over 22,000 cases of identity theft involving individuals 19 and under in the last year alone. Yet, according to the FTC, this figure barely scratches the surface. The clandestine nature of these crimes, compounded by the reluctance or inability of victims to report them, suggests a much larger issue at play.

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ID theft scam 3

A mother is on her laptop while her child is in her lap  (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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How to secure your child’s financial future by acting now

1. Freezing your child’s credit is a critical first step, effectively locking out potential fraudsters. This can be done as soon as a child receives a Social Security number, with no downside to preemptively safeguarding their financial identity.

2. Ask questions before sharing personal information. Be cautious about sharing your child’s Social Security number. Always ask why it’s needed, how it will be protected and if there’s an alternative identifier that can be used.

3. Secure personal documents. Keep documents with your child’s personal information, such as medical records or Social Security cards, in a locked file cabinet. Shred these documents before disposal.

4. Use an identity theft protection service. Identity Theft companies can monitor personal information like your child’s Social Security number, phone number and email address and alert you if it is being sold on the dark web or used to open an account. They can also assist you in freezing your child’s bank and credit card accounts to prevent further unauthorized use by criminals. See my tips and best picks on how to protect yourself from identity theft.

5. Install antivirus software. Ensure all devices used by your child have reputable antivirus software installed. This software can help protect your children from clicking malicious links that install malware that may get access to your private information. This can also alert you of any phishing emails or ransomware scams. Get my picks for the best 2024 antivirus protection winners for your Windows, Mac, Android & iOS devices.

Kurt’s key takeaways

It’s clear that the innocence of childhood is under threat in a way that was unimaginable just a generation ago. The digital age has brought with it a new breed of predators who, hidden behind screens, seek to exploit the most vulnerable among us — our children. 

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Their tactics are sophisticated, their reach is global and their impact can be devastating. But there is hope. By taking proactive steps, we can shield our children from these financial predators and secure their future.

How prepared are you to protect your child’s financial future from identity theft? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact

For more of my tech tips and security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter

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