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Online Lifestyle Exposes Children to Identify Theft
CNBC.com | October 10, 2011 | 09:56 AM EDT

Imagine learning that your ten-year-old child owns a home somewhere across the country or that your toddler owes thousands of dollars in income taxes for a job he or she has never held. If those scenarios seem unfathomable, they’re all too real for families whose children are victims of identity theft.

Because a child’s identity is pristine and often remains unchecked for more than a decade, it is uniquely desirable to identity thieves. Just as appealing to criminals is the fact that a Social Securitynumber with a clean history can be attached to any name or date of birth.

Steve Toporoff, an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, says that while there is a feeling among industry insiders that child identity theft is a major problem, it is very difficult to quantify because, in most instances, people have no clue that they are victims until years after the fact.

A recent study based on identity scans of over 40,000 children in the U.S. conducted by Richard Power, Distinguished Fellow at Carnegie Mellon CyLab , found 10.2 percent of the children in the report had someone else using their Social Security number. That figure is 51 times higher than the 0.2 percent rate for adults in the same population.

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