Identity protection scans of more than 40,000 children in the United States show that 10.2 percent of those children have had their Social Security number used by someone else, a Carnegie Mellon CyLab report states. That rate is 51 times higher than the .2 percent rate for adults.
Additional points from the Child Identity Theft study note that unused Social Security numbers are uniquely valuable to thieves – the numbers can be paired with any name and birth date, which can be particularly useful for illegal immigration. The probability of discovery is low, as the child will not use the number for a long period of time and parents don’t typically monitor their children’s identities for fraud.
However, the potential impact on a child’s future is immense – he or she could have difficulty securing student loan approval, a job, or a place to live due to someone else’s bad credit.
The primary drivers for such attacks, the report says, include illegal immigration, organized crime, and friends and family attempting to circumvent bad credit ratings.
The IDs of children studied in the report were used to purchase homes and automobiles, open credit card accounts, secure employment and obtain driver’s licenses. The largest fraud ($725,000) was committed against a 16-year-old girl, and the youngest victim was five months old.
You can read the full report here.