NEWS

Identity Thieves Selling Kids' Social Security Numbers

By Matthew Harwood

Parents don't only have to be vigilant about protecting their own identities anymore; now they have to worry about protecting their children's as well.

According to the Associated Press, children's Social Security numbers (SSNs) are the newest hot commodity in the identity theft marketplace, providing buyers with years of possibly uninterrupted use. "Hundreds of online businesses are using computers to find dormant Social Security numbers—usually those assigned to children who don't use them—then selling those numbers under another name to help people establish phony credit and run up huge debts they will never pay off."

The scam works like this: perpetrators use computers and publicly available information to identify unused SSNs, likely from children or convicts. After making sure the number is clean—meaning it's active and isn't on file with any of the credit bureaus— the company sells the number to a buyer for anywhere between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

"Because the numbers often come from young children who have no money of their own, they carry no spending history and offer a chance to open a new, unblemished line of credit," reports the Associated Press's Bill Draper. "People who buy the numbers can then quickly build their credit rating in a process called 'piggybacking,' which involves linking to someone else's credit file."

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