Evidently the kids are not alright. At least, that is when it comes to the increasingly lucrative identity theft black market.
A study carried out by a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University’s Cylab found that as many as 10 percent were victims of identity theft – even years before they are old enough to own a credit card or buy a drink, ComputerWorld reports.
The study was based upon the 42,232 children whose names were in an 800,000-plus person database of individuals whose personally identifiable information had been compromised in various data breaches. The database, maintained by identity protection firm All-Clear ID, revealed that 4,311, or 10.2% were being used by someone other than the child they belonged to.
In one extreme case, a 17-year-old girl’s Social Security Number was used by eight people to accumulate $725,000 in debt. In another case, a 14-year-old boy had compiled 10-years of credit history, including the mortgage on a $605,000 house, Computerworld reports.
In some cases, parents with poor credit were using their children’s Social Security Numbers to create accounts with utility companies for water or electricity, while in others, the numbers were being used or sold by criminals for profit. In fact, children were proportionally more likely to have suffered some form of identity theft than their adult counterparts, of whom, only 0.2% have had their identities compromised.
Statistics on identity theft can be hard to come by. One recent study noted a decline in reports of identity theft in 2010, coupled with an increase in the amount of losses for each reported incident. The recent hack of marketing firm Epsilon has raised fears about wide spread identity theft- and phishing schemes linked to e-mail addresses and content exposed in that breach.