AG's office advises public on growing problem of child identity theft

AG's office advises public on growing problem of child identity theft
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Child identity theft is a rapidly growing problem and authorities want the public to be aware.

A survey done by the Identity Theft and Assistance Center discovered that one in 40 households with children experienced identity fraud, and a lot of times it goes undetected.

Sam Pleasant with the Louisiana Attorney General's Office says the reason why people see more and more cases of children's identities being stolen is because of internet access. She also said children are easy targets for identity thieves because they're fresh.

"Children have no established credit," said Pleasant. "For a scammer, a child's security information is basically a clean slate. It's much easier for the thieves to use a child's or infant's social security number without detection than it is to use an adult's information."

Pleasant says thieves will use the children's identity for any number of things, including to open credit card accounts, loans and utilities. For instance, if you see in the mail that you child has gotten a tax return, it isn't a good sign.

Surprisingly, she says the AG's office has found that in some cases the people closest to you may be the ones stealing your child's identity.

"Most of these identity thieves are family members or people who know your child," said Pleasant.

Pleasant says parents can sometimes add to the problem. They may think putting their child's name on a utility bill will save them a headache with collectors, but it only screams "take me" for thieves.

"It's not a great idea," said Pleasant "It will not only cause bad relations between you and your child, but it will totally destroy your child's credit."

Tiffany Brumfield reached out to 9News after she saw our post on Facebook seeking victims of identity theft. She adopted two children and Brumfield said, their biological parents both have criminal backgrounds. Her suspicions about their identity being stolen rose after hearing stories from friends.

"I had a few friends that adopted and in one of the cases previous parents ran their children's credit up," said Brumfield. "They didn't know until they graduated from high school and college. Now their credit is really bad."

Brumfield said she will now take extra precautions to make sure her children's identity is safe, because she rather prefer to be safe than sorry.

If you believe that you are a victim of identity theft please contact the Louisiana Attorney General Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-351-4889.

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