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State issues tips to protect children from identity theft

Posted 9/3/22

Children are 35 times more likely to become victims of identity theft than adults — according to the authorities — and the New York State Division of Consumer Protection wants to help.

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State issues tips to protect children from identity theft


Children are 35 times more likely to become victims of identity theft than adults — according to the authorities — and the New York State Division of Consumer Protection wants to help you minimize the risk.

National Child Identity Theft Awareness Day was Thursday. According to statistics from the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft for youths under 19-years-old grew 60% in the past three years.

State officials said today’s children have been raised in a digital world and, unlike past generations, their exposure to these technologies starts very young and makes them vulnerable to the dangers that lurk in technology’s shadows.

The scale of the issue keeps growing under the increasing influence of digital technology, excessive screen time, social media, remote learning, and digital purchases in our lives.

Products used by children are not nearly as privacy protected as they should be and contribute to the growing problem of child identity theft, authorities said.

“Child identity theft is a disturbing trend as children are 35 times more likely to become victims of identity theft than adults,” said Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez, who oversees the Division of Consumer Protection.

“The widespread adoption of technology products has introduced new challenges to parenthood. Parents must now also learn the behaviors that put children more at risk, how to protect them, and what to do when children become targeted.” 

The crime of child identity theft may go on longer than other types of identity theft because young children are less likely to use credit or take steps to help protect their identities.

Someone whose identity is stolen as a child can feel the effects for years resulting in financial losses and missed opportunities.

As a young adult, they may encounter problems securing a student loan, a first credit card, apartment, or utilities.

The best approach is to prevent it and look for warning signs to protect your child’s credentials.

Warning signs:

• Pre-approved credit offers in your child’s name. This is a sign that someone else has used your child’s social security number to fraudulently obtain credit.

• Any communication addressed to your child from the IRS.

• Collection calls or past-due notices in your child’s name.

• Marketing offers for products and services that arrive in your child’s name.

Taking action

To protect your children from identity theft, you are advised to consider freezing your child’s credit.

Security freezes are free, but must be placed separately with each of the nationwide credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

It is also advised to keep your children’s identity documents, including birth certificate and social security card, in a secure location.

For many children, the line between the physical and virtual worlds is already blurry, officials said.

Children with unrestricted and unmonitored internet access are at greater risk of experiencing the exposure of their personal information.

Children’s information is collected in many places, including social media platforms, smart devices, video games and mobile applications.

Child safety:

• Make sure that children are registered as under 13 on the sites and applications they use. This limits the data that can be collected on them and the content they see.

• Take hardware and software seriously. Buy products only from reputable companies, installing software updates immediately when available and restricting data collection to the strictest settings a service allows. 

• Secure your child’s cellphone. If you’ve trusted your child with a smartphone, make sure their device is as secure as possible by adjusting settings for location, screen time, passcodes, and more.

• With online games, ensure children play in disguise with a safe game name and don’t share personal information on gaming account profiles

• With internet-connected toys, parents must be present when toys are being set-up. Some toys come equipped with microphones, voice recognition, GPS enabled wearables and artificial intelligence that allow software interaction between the child and the toy.

Many can put a child’s privacy at risk.

• Make sure your social media account is set to ‘private.’

Most social media is public by default.

• Involve children in routine privacy practices, such as creating safe passwords in a password manager or keeping up with online safety news. 

• Remind children that they can come to you when a questionable situation arises when they are online.

• Talk to children about keep everything updated: make sure that all devices, software, and firmware are up to date.


In the event there is an incident of identity theft, notify your local law enforcement agency.

Contact the three credit reporting agencies to report the theft and place a freeze on your child’s credit record to prevent further damage.

Officials said to contact every business where your child’s information was misused and ask to close the fraudulent accounts, while flagging the accounts for identity theft.

Contact the state Division of Consumer Protection’s Identity Theft Prevention and Mitigation Program, which serves to help victims by walking through the steps necessary to recover from the damages of identity theft.


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