Being an adult has its advantages when falling victim to identity theft. Adults can detect and prevent the crime by taking certain security precautions and monitoring their information. Resolving the issue is also more expedient because they have the knowledge, understanding and information to contact the right authorities and start rebuilding their life. When identity theft is committed against a child, the crime can be much more damaging because it's more difficult to detect and, therefore, goes on for a longer period of time. For this reason, consumers advocates are becoming more alarmed at the growing prevalence of child identity theft.
Child identity theft is most often committed at the hands of parents or family members who have access to personal information such as Social Security number, date of birth, address and the other necessary data a criminal needs to open up fraudulent accounts. This type of theft can go on for years and is not usually discovered by the victim until they become a teenager and go to apply for a college loan or credit card only to find that their credit is destroyed and they are deeply in debt.
"They won't be able to get a credit card. Or if the debt owed is disproportionate to their earnings, then they can't get loans. It's difficult to get a car," Michelle Jones - senior vice president of counseling for non-profit credit counseling and educational organization CredAbility - told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"And when you are applying for car insurance or applying for a job, people look at your credit score. The worst case scenario - you have a young adult who is facing filing for bankruptcy on a debt that they never personally incurred," she added.
Consumer advocates expect the incidence to continue growing, especially as more families fall behind on mortgage payments, loans and credit cards.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, more than 11 million Americans now report being touched by some form of identity theft each year. For children who may not understand the importance of credit, this growing crime is even more dangerous for them. When the crime is committed by a parent or loved one, children are also more hesitant to report the crime, making it difficult to know how many kids identity theft truly affects.