Your child’s full name and date of birth are all someone needs to steal their identity. To shed light on this form of identity theft, law enforcement professional and former fraud supervisor Robert Chappell, Jr., explores the crime in his new book, Child Identity Theft: What Every Parent Needs to Know. Although more than 500,000 children become victims of identity theft each year—half of them under age 6—Chappell says the threat is one that parents must educate themselves about so they can teach their children how to protect their identity.
I spoke with Chappell about how to detect if a child’s identity has been compromised, creative ways identity thieves steal a child’s personal information, and why children are often a better target than adults. Read the Q&A and watch a Google Hangout with Chappell.
Ken Stalcup, a certified public accountant in
Indianapolis, used his debit card to pay for a meal at a local restaurant. A few days later, his card was used in New York without his knowledge to purchase computers at a national office supply store. His bank flagged the suspicious charge and quickly canceled the card, but not before the perpetrator racked up close to $2,000. As someone who regularly monitors his checking account, Stalcup’s initial reaction was, “This can’t be happening to me, can it?”
Identity theft is a growing problem in the United States. According to the 2012 identity fraud report by Javelin Strategy & Research, cases of identity fraud increased by 13 percent last year, with more than 11.6 million U.S. adults becoming victims.
For a story for U.S. News & World Report, I spoke to identity-theft experts to highlight red flags that might indicate you’re a victim. Click here to read about the warning signs.