June is the month of graduations and new frontiers. For thousands of young people, it will be the first time they apply for credit and some may discover a disturbing scam. If you think 18 is too young to have your identity stolen, think again. All a thief needs are a few key numbers and your identity can be compromised at any age.
“She was getting ready to go away for college,” said Michael Carroll of his daughter. “She applied for some small loans for books and stuff like that and she was denied the loans.”
Carroll thought his daughter was denied because she did not have any established credit. He and his wife helped her get the loan, but she hit another road block while applying to get cable.
“We can’t issue you any cable because there is a problem with your credit,” he recalled. “My daughter said how can there be a problem with my credit I’m 18 and have no credit.”
Frustrated and a little scared, Carroll’s daughter called him and they began to figure out what happened.
“She contacted the three major credit bureaus and found out indeed somebody did get credit in her name when she was 8 years old,” he said. “What had happened is when they applied for credit in her name, they ran the credit cards all the way to the limit and they never paid them, so basically she ended up with bad credit at 8 years old.”
In all, more $15,000 worth of credit had been applied against her name.
“We worked with the credit bureaus and [got] it all cleaned up,” said Carroll. “It took a year to get all her credit clean. Now she has good credit and is going forward.”
The Carroll family has another daughter who is 16, and they put a credit freeze on her credit for the next two years.
Postal inspectors said they best way to prevent your child’s social security number from being used is to be proactive.
“I always tell parents to check their children’s credit once a year,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Nick Bucciarelli. “Most of these websites offer free credit checks one time a year. In five minutes, you can make sure that no one has stolen your children’s identity.”
Anyone can check their social security number on ssa.gov. The social security administration’s website can see if a workplace or bank has searched a number.