Stealing the Identities of Children, College Students

9 Million Americans Are Victims of ID Theft Each Year

Someone stealing a child’s identity is not on the list of worries for many parents. But should it be? Yes, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). Children and college students are at particular risk of being victims of identity theft, the “fastest growing crime in America.”With more than 900,000 new cases reported each year, no one is immune to identity theft. Children are at risk because of the long time period between the actual theft and the actual discovery of the crime, according to the ITRC, a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate individuals and businesses on the threat of identity theft. Children are more likely to have their information stolen by close relatives, the ITRC said. Statistics show that overall, 25 percent of all identity case victims know or are related to the thiefCurrent research by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has shown an alarming increase in identity theft cases in American households. As many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year, the FTC reported.”You or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft,” the FTC said on its Web site. “Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card or establish a telephone account in your name.” College students have become a main target because of their carelessness with valuable information. Nearly 49 percent of college students receive credit card solicitations weekly, and 30 percent of students don’t dispose of them correctly, according to Impulse Research, a public opinion and marketing research firm. Howard University student Robert Ford, 21, throws credit card applications in the trash. “I get credit card applications sent to my dorm room address all the time, and I never open them, I just throw them in the garbage,” Ford said. “Sometimes I do it without thinking.”The harm in disposing credit card applications without shredding them comes from the heightened possibility that someone might fraudently fill out the application. To prevent most cases of identity theft, people have to limit opportunities for thieves. The FTC highlights many methods by which a thief could obtain valuable information such as dumpster diving, changing an address without the victim’s knowledge and stealing. Victims of identity theft can be robbed of their money, time and credit. There are different forms of identity theft, but the law recognizes three types: financial identity theft, criminal identity theft and identity cloning. Ford said that he will now put a little more effort into managing his bank accounts and that he will think twice before giving information online. “I’ve never been a victim of identity theft,” Ford said. “And I want to keep it that way.”

Edited by Claudia Harrington and Lendora Washington.