ITAC Announces Results of Child Identity Fraud Survey Report

Little is know about the scope of child identity theft and how criminals use personal information to commit crime - until now. ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, is a sponsor of new, comprehensive research conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research that finds that one in 40 households with children under age 18 had at least one child whose personal information was compromised by identity criminals. Moreover, the information is often used to create "synthetic identities," where a real social security number combined with other fraudulent information to create a new identity.

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The results will help ITAC and its government and nonprofit partners improve strategies to prevent and detect child identity fraud and assist victims recover from the crime.

Washington, DC (PRWEB) December 04, 2012

ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, today announced the findings of the 2012 Child Identity Fraud Survey Report, conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research and sponsored by ITAC. The survey found that one in 40 households with children under age 18 had at least one child whose personal information was compromised by identity criminals.

“This survey provides the first solid, verifiable statistics on the causes and consequences of child identity fraud,” said ITAC President Anne Wallace. “The results will help ITAC and its government and nonprofit partners improve strategies to prevent and detect child identity fraud and assist victims recover from the crime.”

ITAC works closely with BITS, the technology policy division of The Financial Services Roundtable, to educate financial institutions and their customers regarding threats to identity. “Financial services companies are often the first to detect and alert customers about fraud, but our goal is to prevent fraud from happening, especially when it involves minors,” said BITS President Paul Smocer.

The report surveyed 5,100 U.S. adults with dependents under age 18 to determine the incidence, sources and consequences of the crime. In addition to ITAC, the survey was sponsored by Intersections Inc. (NASDAQ: INTX), a leading provider of consumer and corporate identity theft risk management services, and LexisNexis.

Key Findings

  •     A Social Security Number Is the Top Compromised Identifier. Consistent with industry experience, and with the experience of adult identity fraud victims, the study shows that Social Security numbers are the most commonly used piece of information by identity thieves targeting children. In fact, 56% of respondents reported theft or misuse of a child's SSN.
  •     Synthetic Identities Most Common Method Behind Child ID Fraud. The study shows that the most common way that criminals use a child’s personal information is to combine a child’s Social Security number with a different date of birth to create a new identity that can be used to commit fraud. Fraud involving “synthetic identity” is especially difficult for victims and industry to detect.
  •     One in 40 Respondents Had a Child Who Was a Victim of ID Fraud. The study found that 2.5 percent of U.S. households with children under age 18 experienced child identity fraud at some point during their child’s lifetime. This equates to one in 40 households with minor children being affected by this crime. Child identity fraud may be underreported by family members who may be linked to the fraud, as well as households in which individuals do not discover that they have been victims of childhood ID fraud until after they are 18 years old.
  •     Victimization Frequently Occurs Close to Home by Family or Friends. Friendly fraud is to blame in many child ID theft cases. The data shows that 27 percent of respondents reported knowing the individual responsible for the crime.
  •     Lower Income Families Disproportionately Affected by Child ID Fraud. According to the findings, as family income decreases, the risk of child identity fraud increases. While 50 percent of households of child identity theft victims had incomes under $35,000, only ten percent of households of child identity theft victims had incomes of more than $100,000.
  •     Child Identity Fraud more Difficult to Detect and Resolve than Adult ID Fraud. The survey showed that these crimes took 334 days to detect and 44 hours to resolve, and 17 percent of children were victimized for a year or longer. These statistics indicate that child identity fraud is both more difficult to detect, and more difficult to resolve, than adult identity fraud.

ITAC’s Recommendations

The study underscores the important role that parents must play to protect their child’s identity. ITAC recommends:

1.    Keep Personal Information Personal. Keep birth certificates and documents with your child’s Social Security number under lock and key and only carry them with you when absolutely necessary. Create a password and protect documents on your computer that contain personal information. Buy and use a crosscut shredder for sensitive documents.    

2.    Ask Before You Share Personal Information. Most schools ask parents to provide sensitive information when enrolling a child, but a child’s Social Security number may be preferred but not necessary. Before providing your child’s SSN or birth certificate, ask why the information is needed, how it will be protected, and if there’s another way to identify the child. Unless you initiate contact, do not provide your child’s Social Security number (or any part of it) over the phone, online or in-person.

3.    Share Safety Tips. Talk to your children about identity theft and encourage them to keep their information private. Children may be asked to answer questions about themselves on the first day of school, but remind them that personal information like their home address, phone number, or social security numbers should not be shared with anyone.

4.    Read Your Child’s Mail. Items through regular mail or via e-mail asking for personal information can be a red flag for fraud. Look for terms like “personally identifiable information,” and “opt out.” Make sure to find out how your child’s personal information will be used, whether it will be shared, and with whom, before you grant access.

5.    Stay Safe Online. Teach your children how to be safe online and make sure they are avoiding sites that could be dangerous or inappropriate for minors. Stay strict about social networking age limits. A recent Consumer Reports survey found that 7.5 million of the estimated 750 million people on Facebook are younger than 13, and more than 5 million of those are 10 and under. Create a safe environment with open dialogue.

Methodology

The Javelin Strategy & Research Child Identity Fraud Survey Report is the first of its kind to examine child identity fraud, and the online survey results are based on responses from more than 5,100 U.S. adults with dependents under age 18 on KnowledgePanel®U.S.

About ITAC

ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, is the national advocate for identity theft victims and a leading voice on identity policy. Millions of consumers have access to the ITAC victim assistance service through our members – the financial services companies who support ITAC and offer it as a free service for their customers. ITAC is dedicated to protecting all consumers through education, research and the criminal prosecution of identity crime.

About Javelin Strategy & Research

Javelin Strategy & Research is the leading provider of quantitative and qualitative research focused on the global financial services industry. Our extensive quantitative data and deep analyst experience enable us to forecast the direction of the financial services market and make recommendations that empower you and your business to succeed. For more information on this project or other Javelin studies, visit http://www.javelinstrategy.com/research.


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