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El robo de identidad prospera con la sorpresa

ID theft thrives on surprise

by Kayla Sedbrook 

The woman on the other end of the line identifies herself as a police officer. A camera caught you running a red light and you owe an overdue fine. You're facing a hefty late fee, a court date, and possibly jail time. You choose to pay the bill over the phone. Congratulations! You've just given away your identity (Yahoo! Autos Sept. 19).

The scenario may be new, but the enabling factors are the same for all types of identity-theft: Scammers count on the element of surprise and that you won't do your fact-checking.

Fact: The police and most other authorities will not use the phone to obtain your personal information or to collect overdue fines or tickets. They use the postal service or even a personal visit by a law enforcement officer.

Even if you're already on guard about protecting your private information, there's an emerging market for identity theft that targets a different timeline surprise --your kids (Huffington Post Aug. 22).

Every person in the United States is required to be registered with the government, once you are registered you receive a Social Security number that allows you to open up savings accounts, get a passport, a job, or fill out official paperwork. Children's Social Security numbers offer identity thieves a clean slate on which they can commit fraud for years without detection. After all, how many parents think to run credit reports on their children?

Organized crime is a major player in child identity theft. Thieves recognize them as an easy target. The Federal Trade Commission is an independent agency of the United States government that protects consumers. They report that, in 2010, 8% of identity theft complaints came from victims age 19 and younger.

Your innocent neglect could affect your child for years, but seldom will be detected when the fraud is occurring. Your adult child might discover the problem only when she applies for a credit card or attempts a mortgage loan and is denied. The damage from identity theft can take a long time and a lot of dollars to repair. Miranda, from Miami, had her identity stolen when she was a child, but didn't realize it until she applied for her first credit card. "This is one of those things you never imagine happening to yourself. But it can and it did. The process is long to fix, and now I am so careful with my personal information that thieves can use to steal my identity- you should be too."

Reduce your chances of becoming a surprise victim of identity theft by following this advice from the Consumer Federation of America, a nonprofit organization that works to advance consumer interests.

Don't carry your child's Social Security card

Lost Social Security cards are the most common source of information for identity thieves.

Ask before you tell

When asked for your child's personal information, find out how it will be stored or, if not stored, how it will be destroyed or returned.

Use a cross-cut paper shredder

Before you dispose of documents with your child's personal information, shred it using a cross-cut paper shredder.

Keep pictures of your child off the Internet

Identity thieves can use the geocoding features embedded within digital images to find information that helps them steal children's identities.

Don't tell your children their Social Security numbers

Wait until they understand how and why to protect themselves from identity theft.

Published 11-28-2011



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