Identity theft protection isn’t just for grown-ups. Companies like Identity Guard offer family plans because there’s a genuine need: Kids are twice as likely as adults to be victimized. This estimate is from Javelin Research, a group focused on digital financial safety. Javelin found that 39 percent of American minors were victims of identity theft in 2017, whereas “only” 19 percent of adults had their data compromised. The general risk has increased since then because hackers have breached even more records and are gaining speed! Norton reports that in the first half of 2019, data breaches increased 54% compared with the first six months of 2018.
Why Kids Are at Risk
Most minors targeted for ID theft are under seven years old. Why target a toddler or other little kid? Generally a child doesn’t have a big bank account to drain – but their Social Security Number could have big value. It can provide a clean slate for someone looking to establish credit or commit other ID fraud. From a thief’s perspective, using a child’s SSN is ideal because identity fraud could continue for years before someone catches on.
Who commits these crimes? It’s creepy, but in 98% of cases the offender knows the child. Javelin reports that about a third of identity crimes against children are committed by so-called family friends. Your own relatives, romantic partners and exes, co-workers, and neighbors are also more likely than strangers to steal your child’s identity for financial gain. People might even try to claim your kids as dependents for tax deductions! Besides being creepy, that complicates your own relationship with the IRS.
Real Kids and Synthetic IDs
Why would an upstanding company lend to a child? It wouldn’t, but fraudsters use children’s Social Security Numbers to create synthetic IDs. A synthetic ID is a fake consumer profile. For example, a fake profile could feature your child’s SSN and a false birthdate.
As a parent you might see signs of ID theft. For instance, offers of pre-approved credit might arrive for your kindergartener, or your tween might be summoned for jury duty. But without an ID theft monitoring service like Identity Guard, theft could go undetected until your child applies for their first job or credit card. They would be denied employment or credit because another person’s actions are reflected on their background report.
Cleaning up a child’s false records is generally very time-consuming. Restoring an identity involves corresponding with the Federal Trade Commission, filing a police report, contacting the anti-fraud departments of companies involved, and working with credit bureaus. Enrolling with a company like Identity Guard can help you minimize or avoid the hassle of identity clean-up.
To some degree you can personally protect your children’s SSNs. For example, if your child’s school requests a SSN for enrollment, you can ask if there is an alternative means of tracking. And when your children are old enough to understand, explain to them that personal information shouldn’t be shared.
Nonetheless, even the most cautious kids and adults can’t completely guard Social Security Numbers. Data breaches strike hospitals, insurance companies, and others who hold our numbers. Besides that, criminals don’t merely steal current SSNs: They make profiles for numbers that won’t be assigned for years! Thus when an innocent baby is born, he or she might already have poor credit and a fierce criminal record in the eyes of authorities.
Identity Guard Solutions
Identity Guard has affordable whole-family plans for protecting against ID theft. You won’t spend much more on protecting a whole family compared with just protecting yourself; the difference is about $5 to $10 month depending on the plan. A family account with Identity Guard covers all adults and minors at one address. The cheapest plan is just $10 total per month when you sign up through our link, or $14.99 at full price.
Big benefits of enrolling children with Identity Guard are:
- IBM® Watson™ dark web scans & alerts
- Safe browsing and anti-phishing software
- Personal risk report based on their online behaviors
- $1,000,000 stolen funds policy
- Expertly guided credit theft resolution
Identity Guard has been recognized many times by the Internet Society’s Online Trust Alliance for helping people surf safely. Each plan provides safe browser add-ons for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Anti-phishing software is included for desktop computers and mobile devices (iOS and Android).
The Identity Guard Value plan is cheapest at just $10/month total for everyone at your address. It provides alerts based on IBM® Watson™ artificial intelligence, which constantly scans the web for signs of trouble. If your child’s SSN is detected for sale or otherwise found to be at risk, Identity Guard will typically alert you within a few seconds. You can get notifications by smartphone, landline, and/or email.
Obviously the dark web alerts have proactive benefits, and studies suggest that they reduce risk of ID theft by about 15 percent. However, the sad truth is that your kid’s SSN (and yours) will probably be breached sooner or later. Thus our recommended buy is the Total plan for $20/month including our reader discount. In addition to sharing IBM® Watson™ alerts about stolen information, it sends alerts if credit is established in a family member’s name.
Credit report changes are reported by Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. You can receive them virtually anywhere with the Identity Guard mobile app, which helps you respond right away. Additionally adults receive a monthly credit score with the Total deal.
A third option for families is the Premier Plan for $23.33 per month with our discount link, or $34.99/month at full price. It adds quarterly three-bureau credit reports. Also included only with Premier is a Facebook timeline analysis to help manage your appearance to the public. The timeline analysis can alert you to tampering. It can also help family members make better decisions about what they post for public viewing.
Sign-up for Identity Guard takes ten minutes or less. You’ll need a SSN to start the family account. You can then enroll your children right away, and by email you can invite any other adults in your household to enroll. A 30-day free trial is available.
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the companies referenced in this article. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the companies mentioned. We may be compensated through advertiser affiliate programs.