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Identity theft scammers target innocent children

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Now more than ever, our financial identity is just as important as our physical identity.

However, alarmingly, a new trend is emerging that targets the most vulnerable and unlikely targets: children.

It may seem unlikely that identity thieves would target young children, many of whom don’t even have pocket money.

However, the truth is very alarming. Scammers make significant amounts of money by exploiting children’s identities, potentially ruining their financial future before it even begins.

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Identity theft fraud 1

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

The tactics scammers use to exploit children’s information

Scammers use various tactics to obtain confidential information about minors. They may scour social media, search for data leaks, search public databases, interact directly with minors in digital forums, or purchase data from dark web.

Top identity theft scams to avoid

How children’s identities become blank checks for criminals

Child identities are particularly attractive to criminals because they are financially harmless. Armed with just a few personal details, these scammers can take over a child’s social media presence, redirect emails, secure retail credit cards or gain access to financial resources by changing passwords – all under the radar of unsuspecting parents.

This form of identity theft can go undetected for years and only comes to light when young adults are confronted with rejected loan applications or denied benefits – a rude awakening to a problem they never knew existed.

Identity theft fraud 2

A mother sits at 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 people under the age of 19 last year alone. However, according to the FTC, that number barely scratches the surface. The secret nature of these crimes, coupled with the reluctance or inability of victims to report them, suggests a much larger problem.

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Identity theft fraud 3

A mother sits at her laptop while her child lies on her lap (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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Here’s how to secure your child’s financial future by acting now

1. Freezing your child’s credit is an important first step, effectively locking out potential fraudsters. This is possible as soon as a child receives a social security number, without the disadvantage of preemptively protecting their financial identity.

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

3. Back up personal documents. Keep documents containing your child’s personal information, such as medical records or social security cards, in a locked filing cabinet. Destroy 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 help you freeze your child’s bank and credit card accounts to prevent further unauthorized use by criminals. Check out my tips and best tips on how to protect yourself from identity theft.

5. Install antivirus software. Make sure all devices your child uses have reputable antivirus software installed. This software can help protect your children from clicking on malicious links that install malware that may gain access to your private information. This can also alert you to phishing emails or ransomware scams. Get my pick of the best antivirus winners of 2024 for your Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices.

Kurt’s most important findings

It is clear that the innocence of childhood is threatened in ways that were unimaginable even a generation ago. The digital age has brought with it a new generation 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 effects can be devastating. But there is hope. By taking proactive measures, we can protect 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 to us Cyberguy.com/Contact

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