Aug 11, 2013 Dave King
Like virtually every criminal, identity thieves prey on the most vulnerable parties, and have been especially active in attacks against the elderly and children. Businesses need to ensure that ID verification standards are as tight as possible to thwart attempts to steal customers' or employees' identities, as being the source of the issue can be devastating.
Failure to implement the necessary controls and security standards could lead to fines, sanctions, hurt reputations and incurred financial losses. Most identity theft events, though, can be prevented by simple standards, such as data security software, employee training for ID verification at the point of sale and simple online best practices education for all staff members and potentially customers as well.
Childhood ID theft on the rise
WKYT, a Lexington, Kentucky-based CBS affiliate, recently reported that children represent the fastest growing group of identity theft victims in the United States. Whereas the elderly, especially those living in Florida, Arizona and California, were once the favorite targets of identity thieves, children seem to be the newest group at risk of losing their personal information - and not even knowing about it for years.
According to the news provider, one example of how easily thieves can perpetuate this crime on children was a local elementary school where one suspect who had access to school files stole and sold the information of more than 500 children to another suspect. This compromised the identities of virtually all children in the school in one fell swoop.
What's more, the source noted that many parents and children will not know that they have become victims until years down the road, especially around the time teenagers are applying for student loans for college. At this point, it will become clearer.
"Be aware of how your children's personal information is used. Just like your own information SS number, and date of birth, be aware of how it is being used," Jim Walsh, a U.S. Postal Inspector, told WKYT. "If they apply for a loan or try to get credit they could find out their credit is basically ruined and wouldn't know it the whole time they are growing up."
The news provider noted that parents should regularly check their children's credit reports to identify any abnormalities.
What to do about it
Today's TMJ4 recently reported that Greendale, Calif., State Representative Jeff Stone is working on writing and passing a bill that would enable the establishment and freeze of children's credit records at the time of birth. This would be a preventative measure parents could take to protect their kids from thieves.
Additionally, ABC News suggested teaching children best practices of personal information protection as early as possible, as well as safe Internet behavior. Parents can help their children avoid threats at an early age, and should be especially involved when they first start using the Internet.
Many of these practices should be shared by businesses of all sizes. Employees should be well-versed in exceptional ID verification processes, and should always know to be wary about giving away their personal information.