Debt settlement firm warns parents about ID theft targeting kids
February 02, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Lifestyle NewsExecutives at Debt Shield, Inc., a Maryland-based debt settlement firm, are warning parents to include their children in their efforts to defend their family against identity theft.
Identity thieves are creating new accounts under children’s names using only their social security number. Criminals are taking advantage of these children’s lack of a credit history and the fact that they are unlikely to apply for a credit account for several years. Many children may not realize their identity was stolen until they turn 18 and try to buy a car or rent an apartment.
“Many responsible adults already understand that identity theft is a major threat and take steps to avoid it,” said Debt Shield President Mark Baylis. “But most people don’t think their children could be targeted for this crime.”
Identity theft was the number one consumer complaint in 2005 according to the Federal Trade Commission’s annual report released January 25, accounting for 37% of the 686,683 complaints filed last year.
An increase in internet activities among children could be partly to blame. According to a report published by MSNBC, children reveal more personal information online than parents realize. Many teenagers regularly use social networking sites or blogs without understanding the potential consequences of revealing personal information.
Baylis said that parents should treat their children’s information with the same precautions as other sensitive information. Steps parents should take include shredding any discarded information and keeping personal records locked in a fireproof safe. Baylis also suggested that parents should see if their children have a credit report, and if so, obtain a free copy to make sure criminals are not opening unauthorized accounts in their children’s names.
“I’ve read news articles where teenagers, toddlers and even cats were approved for credit card accounts,” Baylis continued. “So, there is a real possibility that identity thieves will take advantage of credit card issuers’ lax approval process and place families at risk.”
To obtain a free credit report, consumers should call the 1-877-322-8228 or go to www.annualcreditreport.com. Baylis urged caution when going to the website. He said consumers should double check their spelling when typing in the website address because imposter websites using common misspellings may attempt to steal consumers’ identities or charge them for a service they did not request.
About Debt Shield, Inc.
Debt Shield, Inc., is a debt settlement company dedicated to helping consumers resolve their unsecured debt through mutually agreeable and discounted lump sum settlements in consideration of legitimate financial hardships. By helping consumers avoid bankruptcy, Debt Shield provides a service for both debtors and creditors. For more information about Debt Shield, call 1-888-397-7546 or visit the website at www.debtshield.com.