Child identity theft on the rise


by Melissa Mahadeo / KVUE News with photojournalist Derek Rasor

Posted on October 27, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 27 at 11:01 PM

AUSTIN -- Otelia Valesquez is very particular about buying online, paying with a credit card, or ever giving out her information.

"86-year-old lady, somebody in New York, because she used to order from Spegals and all that, they got her identity," she said.

That 86-year old lady she's referring to was her mother-in-law.

After that, Valesquez said she started taking extra precautions to protect her identity and the identities of her grand kids.

"The only place their social security goes is when we do our income tax, that is it," she said.

A 2009-2010 study at the Carnegie Mellon University Cylab revealed identity thieves target children 51 times more often than adults.

According to the Better Business Bureau, the study shows "thieves steal social security numbers, attach a different name and birth date to it, and proceed to open credit cards and secure auto loans, student loans and home mortgages, among other things."

Erin Dufner with the Better Business Bureau says it's important to keep your children's social security number guarded.

"Be sure that you keep it in a very safe place, possibly locked up. If you are scanning those documents make sure that your anti-virus is up to date and it is password protected."

Dufner says now-a-days, identities are often stolen online and since it's not common for parents to check their children's credit when they are young, thefts can go unnoticed.

"Sometimes by the time that you figure it out, the damage is already done and they may have hundreds of thousands of dollars taken out in credit," Dufner said. "If your child is getting those credit card mailers in the mail and they are not even teenagers yet, that is absolutely a red flag."

She says it's important to check your child's credit, along with yours, at least once a year.

Valesquez says after her mother-in-law's experience, she's wants to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else, especially not anyone's grand kids.

"You cant trust anybody out there," Valesquez said.


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