Picture this: You’re on the cusp of adulthood, ready to take that next step by applying for a credit card or loan. The problem, though, is that your identity was stolen years ago when you were a child. According to the consumer credit reporting agency Experian, this problem is growing quickly, but steps are being taken to combat it.
Experian, which has a major North Texas presence, has declared Sept. 1 as Child Identity Theft Awareness Day, and has launched a new service to detect child identity theft.
“We want to help parents verify that their child is not a victim—we hope—and if they are, be able to help them resolve those problems.”
“One of the things that Experian always tries to do is find innovative ways to help people solve those kinds of problems,” Experian’s Dallas-based Director of Consumer Education and Awareness Rod Griffin says. “We want to help parents verify that their child is not a victim—we hope—and if they are, be able to help them resolve those problems.”
The free, one-time Child ID Scan checks if a child’s Social Security number is associated with an Experian credit file. If it is, the Fraud Resolution team will step in to assist the child’s guardian.
Costa Mesa, California-based Experian’s new initiatives are a response to a recent survey the company conducted among victims of child identity theft. The survey showed that 59 percent of respondents had credit reports and scores that were negatively impacted, and 52 percent were denied credit. One in four people were still dealing with issues 10 years later, and 68 percent were fearful it could happen again.
“After conducting this survey, we realized we needed to make people more aware of what’s happening,” Griffin says. “Too often, children’s identities are stolen and they don’t know about it until they’re young adults. And, they can spend years trying to address it.”
Experian’s National Consumer Assistance Center and call centers are both in Allen, and the national data centers are in McKinney and Allen. Griffin hopes this new innovation will spread awareness and help consumers become more financially successful.
“We want to be the consumer’s bureau,” he says. “We want to be able to help people no matter what their issues are.”
EXPERIAN HAS A WAY TO GET INVOLVED
This Wednesday, Aug. 29 at 2 p.m., Experian is hosting a Twitter chat to discuss child identity theft. To participate, use the hashtags #CreditChat and #StopChildIDTheft, or follow along @Experian_US.
Experian also has partnered with the Identity Theft Resource Center, a call center open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time, weekdays. On the Saturday of Child Identity Theft Awareness Day, the call center will be available from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m Central Time to answer related questions.
For any parents concerned about child identity theft, Griffin gave Dallas Innovates the following tips and advice:
- It’s important to monitor your child’s identity and use of their SSN;
- Make sure you’re careful about where you’re using that identity, and how;
- Don’t carry any Social Security cards in your wallet or purse;
- A child should not have a credit report unless you have added that child as an authorized user;
- Keep a small safe or something that locks for documentation relating to identity;
- Look into monitoring credit with services like Experian’s family plan.
For additional guidance, visit Experian’s blog here.