Experian has launched a new service allowing parents to find out if their young children are the victims of identity theft.
Child ID Scan is a free, one-time service that will check to see if the child’s social security number is associated with an Experian credit file. If so, the company’s fraud resolution team will work with parents on next steps to help protect the child.
Identity theft is increasingly becoming an issue for people under the age of 18. In 2017, more than 1 million kids were affected, resulting in $2.6 billion in losses. A national survey by Experian of 738 people found that 59% had their credit report and score damaged by theft.
“A child’s SSN is like gold to identity thieves and a clean slate for criminals to do damage over possibly a long period of time,” said Michael Bruemmer, vice president of Consumer Protection at Experian in a statement. “Our free service and educational content can be key resources, but we urge parents to be vigilant on an ongoing basis. If they aren’t, the consequences for their children can be damaging and long-term.”
Kids are establishing online footprints earlier and earlier, which helps identity thieves gain access to their information. Digitization of school and medical records assists as well.
Children’s social security numbers are ripe targets for hackers, as they can create a credit card application using legitimate information and the child and parent won’t often know about it until the child becomes of adult age and begins that life with terrible credit.