By Officer Larry Jacobs, SSPD

We don’t often think about “identity theft” where a child is the victim.

But think about it this way: Your child has a Social Security number and it’s just as easy for a criminal to obtain your child’s number as it is to get your number.

Believe it or not, a family member might even take a child’s Social Security number as use it fraudulently. It can be difficult to detect this crime as your child does not have a credit history that can be checked on from time to time.

According to consumer advocate Clark Howard, identity theft is a constant refrain in a world where the old rule of business to “know thy customer” is a relic of a bygone era. Increasingly, he says on clarkhoward.com, larger and larger remote corporations don’t know who they do business with.

That has led, in part, to enormous economic growth. Think about the possibilities of ecommerce, where you can get on your computer and buy something from somebody located anywhere in the United States (or abroad,) and it shows up at your door in a few days. But on the flip side, all the remoteness of how we do business also makes it far easier for identity thieves to get their hands on the Social Security numbers of others

Unfortunately, the odds of a child being subject to identity theft are 50 times greater than an adult because there are no procedures in place to protect a child’s identity.

Identify thefts from children usually take one of three major forms.

First, a family member might use a child’s Social Security number to secure new lines of credit. This is by far the most common form of child identify theft.

Second, crooks might seize the identity of a child by using their Social Security number.

Finally, undocumented immigrants might use the stolen Social Security number of a child to be able to get work and appear to be legal in the workplace.

Here’s Howard’s advice: Check out AllClearID.com as a way to protect your child’s identity – or yours – from theft.

Officer Larry Jacobs is a crime prevention specialist with the Crime Prevention Unit of the Sandy Springs Police Department. You can reach him at ljacobs@sandyspringsga.gov.