Child Identity Theft
KENNEWICK,Wash. - Hundreds of people have their identity every year in the Tri-Cities. Police said it is a growing problem nationwide and kids are not immune.
Karen St. Martin is a Kennewick resident and mother of five young children. She said, "I wasn't even aware that a child's identity could be stolen."
The Federal Trade Commission said it happens to 400,000 children every year.
Maria Stidham is a Pasco Crime Prevention Specialist. She said, "A child's credit is going to be perfect. They aren't going to have any loans. They aren't going to have six or seven credit cards that say you or I would, so definitely their credit would be more appealing."
Police said parents do not normally check their child's credit history.
Stidham said, "being that there's no reason for them to have any credit. I don't think they would think about having to check it."
St. Martin said,"I guess it's something to be careful about, where you give out your kids names and social security numbers."
Senator Hillary Clinton has gotten involved. She is trying to pass legislation that would force all credit companies to verify the applicant's age.
Police said it is fairly easy to steal a child's information and use it to open a credit card.
Stidham said, "It would be just the same as using your social security number. It's just as easy to do that. Keep your personal information in a safe and secure location."
8 TIPS FOR AVOIDING IDENTITY FRAUD FROM THE PASCO POLICE:
1-Check your credit reports.
2-Scrutinize bank statements.
3-Be careful at ATMs--"Shoulder surfers" can get your account and PIN numbers.
4-Build a firewall--If you use a computer at home, protect yourself by installing firewall software.
5-Memorize--Do not write down PIN numbers and passwords. Commit them to memory.
6-Seal your lips--Never give your Social Security number---or personal information of any kind--over the telephone or online unless you initiate the contact.
7-Shred--Shred bank and credit card statements, canceled checks, pre-approved credit card offers and bills with account information.
8-Guard your mailbox--When you pay bills, do not put them in your mailbox with the flag up. Use a locked mailbox or the post office.