(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – Child identity theft is a fast-growing crime with the number of under-age victims estimated to be as high as 500,000 a year, far exceeding adult identity theft. Criminals target children because kids have a clean credit record or no credit file, and the theft can go undetected for years—usually until the child applies for a summer job, a student loan, or a credit card.
“Until that time, a thief can be racking up debt with credit cards and loans in the child’s name,” says Robert P. Chappell, Jr., a veteran law enforcement officer and identity theft expert. “Once the crime is discovered and stopped, the child can be held responsible for the debt and unable to obtain legitimate credit for months or even years.”
In his new book, Child Identity Theft: What Every Parent Needs to Know, Chappell describes who commits these crimes, the many reasons why, and how they access a child’s personal information.
“Many people assume their children are not vulnerable because their family isn’t wealthy, but identity theft is unrelated to income level,” he warns. “Any child with a social security number could be a victim, but a theft can begin with information as basic as a child’s name, address, and date of birth.”
Chappell’s comprehensive book describes how someone can access information from school records, medical office records, dental records, church records, a lost or stolen purse or wallet, a home invasion, discarded documents, the Internet, and by other methods. He explains what action needs to be taken if a child’s identity has been stolen, and offers resources for dealing with the financial implications as well as the emotional trauma that affects the entire family.
Most importantly, throughout his book he provides preventive measures for parents to protect their children’s identity. A first step is for the parents to obtain a free annual report of their own credit rating. To discover if credit has been used in a child’s name, they should contact one of the credit rating agencies: Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion.
Additional actions he recommends include:
- Teach Your Children Well! Educate your children on the risks of giving personal information to anyone.
- Do Not Share! Do not put your child’s social security number (SSN) on school, medical, insurance, and other forms.
- Keep it Safe at Home! Don’t have your child’s birthdate or SSN in your wallet or purse or at work.
- Don’t Reveal Personal Information on Social Media. Tell your children not to place their birthdate or address on social networking sites.
- Be Wary of Scams. Warn your children about offers they receive by phone, mail or email that could be scams.
- Get on the Do Not Call List. Register all your phone numbers on www.donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222.
- Question Authority! Ask your children’s teachers or school administrators what they do to safeguard student records.
- Watch Your Money! Always deposit bill payments and other mail in a locked mailbox or at the post office.
- Keep It With You or Lock It Up! When traveling with your laptop and similar devices, keep them with you or locked in a hotel safe.
- Shred It! Use a cross-cutting paper shredder for all old documents containing sensitive information.
- Keep Documents Secure! Keep birth certificates, passports, school diplomas, banking information, and other important documents in a locked container or file cabinet.
Written in a reader-friendly question-and-answer format, Child Identity Theft contains helpful information that applies to adults as well as children.
Child Identity Theft: What Every Parent Needs to Know
Robert P. Chappell, Jr.
Hardcover, 207 pages,
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
For more information visit www.ChildIDTheft.org
This comprehensive book reveals the reality of child identity theft and identifies the steps we all should take to protect our children and ourselves. How many victimized children are out there waiting to be discovered? Has your child been victimized? One hopes not, but if so, this book will give you the tools to find out and get help.
About the Author:
Robert P Chappell, Jr., is a veteran law enforcement officer who began his career in 1985 with the Blacksburg Police Department in Virginia. He has worked with the Virginia State Police since 1987. He has served as a trooper, a narcotics special agent, uniformed sergeant, first sergeant, assistant special agent-in-charge with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and currently as a lieutenant with the Bureau of Field Operations. Chappell is also a decorated veteran who served 25 years with the U.S. Army Reserve. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2008.
What People Are Saying
Child identity predators are drawn to the fact that their victims’ Social Security numbers are unused. Child identity theft often goes undetected until the victims are older and run into difficulty trying to get driver’s licenses, credit cards, college loans, apartment rentals, or jobs. What’s more, resolving these problems is difficult and time-consuming. This book provides helpful ways to avoid child identity theft, as well as steps to clear any occurrences of identity theft.
— Matt Cullina, CEO, IDentity Theft 911
Robert P. Chappell, Jr.’s new book, Child Identity Theft, is in my opinion one of the best books on Identity Theft written to date. Robert takes the reader on a guided tour of all of the known issues that a child identity theft case can have, and provides clear, accurate, timely guidance so the parent can clear their child’s name and restore their future. I would suggest that this is a must read for parents everywhere and foster care social workers. Robert has marked the way to guide you out of an identity theft nightmare.
— Jay Foley, partner, Identity Theft Info Source
This book is organized in a way that directly addresses the problems and issues facing concerned parents. It is particularly clearly written and provides just the necessary level of technical detail for the reasonably computer-savvy reader.
— Paul Barnes, professor Macquarie University, Australia; director of the International Fraud Prevention Research Centre
With his research and firsthand knowledge, Robert Chappell has prepared a book that will help parents avoid the pitfalls of child identity theft thereby safeguarding their children’s future. His noble effort should be read by all.
— Don Goodman, Chief of Police, Radford City (VA) Police Department
Every parent needs to be aware of how the bad guys are trying to take advantage of you and your children. Robert Chappell provides a step-by-step description of how to detect and prevent your children from being the victim of identity theft!
— Marty Williams, State President, Fraternal Order of Police of Virginia
Robert Chappell has written a well-researched, invaluable book about a very important topic. It is a comprehensive, hands-on resource with practical examples that provide not just solutions but prevention. This is a must for parents to protect their child’s identity.
— Cindy Orshek, director, National Criminal Justice Command College, University of Virginia