It’s bad enough when you’ve dug your own well of debt. But these days, as identity theft continues to escalate, people who have worked tirelessly to establish solid credit scores are being undermined by thieves and hackers. The newest victims of identity theft are children.
Scammers are now using computers to find dormant Social Security numbers - often those assigned to children. They sell the numbers to people who use them to establish fraudulent lines of credit and run up huge debt – with no intention to pay for it. Scammers often refer to the stolen SSNs as a credit profile, credit protection or credit privacy numbers, CPNs.
In an Associated Press story, Linda Marshall, an assistant U.S. attorney in Kansas City, was quoted saying the fraud could lead to another financial collapse. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been working with lenders to alert them to the fraud, which was uncovered while investigating a mortgage fraud case.
In addition to fraud, the this new twist in identity theft ruins credit scores for children and others whose SSNs are used to perpetrate the crime. Since the dormant SSNs of children have unblemished credit, their appeal to scammers is obvious.
BBB advises parents to check credit reports for children annually through annualcreditreport.com. If you see unauthorized activity under your child's Social Security number, you should alert authorities and credit reporting agencies.
Authorities say they aren't sure how widespread CPN fraud is, but they believe it could grow as Americans watch their credit scores sink to new lows. As of April, more than a quarter of consumers - nearly 43.4 million people - had credit scores of 599 or below, making them poor risks for lenders.