Your Identity

With data breaches from Equifax, Facebook, Flagstar Bank, Marriott International, and numerous other large companies, much of people’s private information is now in the hands of cybercriminals and being sold on Tor, the network criminals often use because it allows anonymity.

They purchase large batches of information, and use it in their cyber warfare. Cybercriminals can then take your stolen identity and apply for jobs, credit cards, tax refunds, medical benefits, gas, water, utilities, and any other benefits in your name. Plus, if they commit a crime, isn’t it easier to just provide your name and social security number?

For instance, “If the identity thief gets arrested for . . . [a] crime and gives your Social Security number to law enforcement, you’ve become tangled in their criminal history.”8 You might never know that your personal information has been used by a criminal until you apply for a job and are denied because you can’t pass a background check.

Your Child’s Identity

Cybercriminals don’t just target adults; they target anyone who can benefit them, even children. Schools and universities are susceptible to data breaches, and your child’s Social Security number could be stolen in a cyber attack.
Once your child’s Social Security number is stolen, then the criminal can “apply for government benefits, open bank and credit card accounts, apply for a loan or utility service, or rent a place to live.” If your child’s identity has been stolen, then you should contact Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax and ask for “a manual search of the child’s file.” These agencies may require documents to prove your child’s identity and your identity. Ask the credit bureaus to remove any fraudulent accounts and consider a freeze on your child’s credit. A credit freeze will make it harder for identity thieves to use your child’s social security number to open lines of credit.

The Federal Trade Commission recommends checking to see if your child has a credit report when they are around 16 years old. If there are errors or if you detect fraud, you will have time to correct the situation before you child applies for a job, college, or an apartment.