Friendly Fraud: Not As Fun As It Sounds

Feb 05, 2013

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stealing on flickr continues...

Child identity fraud is a topic we’ve covered before on this blog, but this is a new angle. A recent survey revealed that 27% of child identity theft victims were victims of friendly fraud, where they knew the person who stole their identity. That’s a little over a quarter of all child identity theft victims. The scary thing is, this number is likely underreported, because if a family member committed the fraud, then of course it wouldn’t be reported.

The most common tactic of identity thieves is to steal a child’s Social Security number and then combine it with a new birthdate to create a new fake identity, called a synthetic identity. This is concerning, because children don’t typically have to use their social security numbers until they get a job or go to college. By then, it is too late. Someone has ruined your child’s reputation before they even had a chance to be an adult.

If someone you know doesn’t seem trustworthy, then don’t trust them. Don’t give anyone personal information about your child if they don’t need it. Be smart about your child’s personal information. Don’t leave important documents like birth certificates and social security cards lying around. Protect digital copies of important documents with passwords. Don’t give out your child’s social security number if another form of identification will do.

Tell your children to be cautious with their information as well. Tell them not to give out their exact birthday or other personal information to just anyone who asks. Especially teach them to be cautious online, and to not share any identifying information beyond their name, and sometimes not even that. Don’t let them on social networking sites until they’re old enough to understand the consequences of sharing too much information. Go ahead and be the mean parent. They’ll thank you later when they don’t become another victim of child identity fraud because they foolishly responded to that phishing email, or even an email from a trusted family friend who maybe wasn’t so trustworthy after all.

If you find your child’s identity has been stolen, see these tips from one mom who has been in the same situation.

I work for Net Nanny and all opinions are my own.