Your Children Are Now Targets for Identity Theft

By: Beth Moreton | Published: Mar 30, 2024

With various forms of theft, fraud, and scams on the rise, many people might assume that children are the one group that would be safe from these.

However, a recent report has confirmed that children are key targets for identity theft, and that parents should look out for telltale signs that their child has become a victim.

A Rise in Criminals Stealing Children’s Identities

Fraudsters have recently decided to make children their target of stolen identity, according to The Daily Mail

A person sat in the dark working on a laptop wearing black fingerless gloves.

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They have been stealing children’s identities and using this for opening lines of credit, and even as a way to apply for benefits. 

Stealing Children’s Identity — The Perfect Crime

Parents don’t tend to check their children’s credit, especially as children don’t need to use it.

Coding on a computer. In the center is a circle that is lighter than the rest of the image, with a lock in the center of the circle.

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This is what has led criminals to steal children’s identities. They know that the parents are unlikely to check their children’s credit, meaning they can get away with stealing their identity longer. 

Thousands of Children Have Had Identities Stolen

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) produced its annual Consumer Sentinel Network report, which included information regarding identity theft. 

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The report found that in 2023, 22,229 people aged 19 and under had had their identity stolen.

Criminals Use Children’s Identitis for Many Reasons

The Wall Street Journal has reported that once criminals have a child’s identity, they can use it for several different things.

A person sat at a desk using a laptop whilst holding a credit card in one hand.

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This includes using it for buying things, claiming government benefits, health care, or for help with nutrition.

Children Most Likely to Have Identities Stolen for Tax Purposes

The report also put the different cases of identity theft into categories.

Various pieces of paper. One says “Tax statement for year 2019”. There is a pen on top with a notebook next to it.

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The most likely reasons for children’s identities being stolen were tax and employment-related reasons. The least likely reason was phone or utility theft.


Children Still Less Likely to Have Identity Stolen

Despite 22,229 children having identities stolen in 2023, they are still one of the least likely age groups to have their identity stolen.

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Those aged 80 and over were the least likely, with 8,901 having their identity stolen in 2023. However, those aged 30 to 39 were the most likely to have their identity stolen, with 272,971 making a report.


Scammers Can Obtain Children’s Identity Through Various Methods

Identity theft isn’t just a case of taking someone’s ID while they are out shopping, as there are various ways for criminals to steal your child’s identity.

A phone with an app older open. The folder is called ‘social media’ and has Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter as apps.

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Aura has said that some of the most common ways for criminals to steal children’s identities are by talking to them on email or social media, account hacking, and going through your trash to find important letters and documents with the information.


Familial Fraud the Most Common Way Children Have Identities Stolen

One of the most common ways for children to have their identities stolen is from familiar fraud.

A family stood around a kitchen island making food. There is a mom and dad with their son and daughter. The dad is holding a bottle of milk and the mom is putting butter on bread.

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Aura reported that 67% of children’s identity fraud cases are committed by a family member who is known to the child.


Parents Should Monitor Children’s Social Media

Social media is one of the easiest ways for criminals to access children, which is why parents should monitor their children’s social media use.

A mother and daughter smiling whilst looking at a smartphone.

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Inspire to Thrive has said that parents monitoring their children’s social media use means they can keep them safe from harm, use parental controls, and make their children aware of the dangers of social media.


Child Identity Theft Often Realized During Job Applications

As most parents don’t check their children’s credit, identity theft often isn’t realized until much later in a child’s life.

Two people sitting at opposite sides of a desk. One person is looking at a resume and has a laptop in front of her.

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Identity theft is likely first discovered by the children themselves when they apply for jobs or credit.


Parents Can Protect Children from Identity Theft

While the thought of their child being the victim of identity theft can be scary, there are ways parents can prevent it from happening.

A woman hugging her child tight.

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Experts say parents should freeze their children’s credit reports, safeguard Social Security numbers, monitor their personal information, pay attention to privacy policies, not use children’s personal information, and not overshare on social media.