I Don’t Need To Worry About Identity Theft Until I Get Older, Right? Wrong!!!!

The title of this post may be what many of your students are thinking when you bring up the topic of identity theft.  They are wrong!

Nice reminder from Ron Lieber of NY Times in this column of the dangers of identity theft for those under the age of 18.  Due to the Anthem Health data breach, his daughter received a letter notifying her that her information had been compromised during this breach.  His column quotes some frightening statistics from an academic study regarding identity theft among children around the time of a similar breach:

Still, a 2011 joint industry-academic examination of 40,000 children caught up in a data breach found that someone else appeared to be using 10.2 percent of their Social Security numbers. Most of those instances happened before the breach in question.

Note that most of these occurred BEFORE the breach.  Why are children such a ripe target for identity thieves?

  • Clean records
  • Not in the habit of checking their credit reports

The column then goes on about how difficult it is to protect your child’s identity from being stolen.  While credit freezes, which prevent anyone from accessing your credit report, seem the logical solution here, they cannot be used until your child has a credit report, which they don’t have (well, unless they have become a victim!).  Only 17 states today allow parents to freeze their children’s accounts but that hopefully is changing in light of events like the Anthem breach.  The article also provides useful tips for young people on protecting their identity.

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Discussion questions:

  • Do you know your Social Security number?  Do you know where your Social Security card is?
  • Do you remember ever being asked what your number was?
  • How should you respond if you receive an email requesting this information from you?

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Want to increase the financial savviness of your students?  Check out our Activity on Creating a Scam Guidebook!