Photo Video

Who's stealing your child's identity?

Don't Waste Your Money

a a a a
Share this story

A growing number of identity theft victims are not adults, but kids.

To make matters worse, they may not find out they've been victimized until years later when their credit is destroyed.  

Axton Betz-Hamilton remembers when she was 19 years old and getting her first apartment. But when she signed up for utility service, they told her they needed a $100 deposit due to her credit score.

She ordered her credit report, and what she found was shocking.

"It was 10 pages long full of fraudulent credit card entries and associated collection agency entries," Betz-Hamilton said.

Turns out, her identity had been stolen when she was 11. Axton would be well into adulthood before she'd manage to clear her name.

She's made it her life's work to educate others about child identity theft. She's a professor now and says your child's name, address and birthday are all pieces to the puzzle. And their social security number is the key piece.

"You should limit very much where your child's social security number is shared," Betz-Hamilton said.

Ask questions when it's requested:

  • Why do they need it?
  • How do they store it?
  • How do they get rid of it?

"If it's a weak answer like we always just collect it, we always just have it, well then, they don't need it," Betz-Hamilton said.

Kids also do things to make themselves easier targets putting pieces to their identity all over social media. You can find birthdays everywhere.

A sad reality of child identity theft is something Betz-Hamilton knows all too well.

"Child identity theft is often committed by someone who's known to the child," she said.

In Axton's case, it was her own mother. And she didn't discover it until after her mom died a year ago. All these years, she had no idea that her mom was living what she believes now was a double life.

She still grapples with why, but in the meantime, she's dedicated to keeping others from living this nightmare.

 "I decided to do something good from the one thing that defined my life to date," Betz-Hamilton said.

A law allows you to put a freeze on your child's credit report with the three credit reporting bureau, which essentially means no one can open credit in their name using their social security number.

More information on child identity theft.

Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More DWYM
Secrets to avoid the soaring price of beef
Secrets to avoid the soaring price of beef

John Matarese has ways of avoiding soaring steak prices

When it's safe to shred old documents
When it's safe to shred old documents

John Matarese shows what's safe to shred, and which papers you should save forever.

Cobalt, Saturn owners anxious for repair
Cobalt, Saturn owners anxious for repair

John Matarese reports on the wait for ignition switch repairs

Scammers using Netflix to steal from millions
Scammers using Netflix to steal from millions

A dangerous new phishing scam is targeting the sensitive information of millions of Netflix users.

You Win Wednesday freebies
You Win Wednesday freebies

John Matarese shares the latest freebies. Click here for App of the Week

IRS phone scam targeting thousands
IRS phone scam targeting thousands

John Matarese has a warning about a major tax scam this spring.

iPhone 6 plans leaked: Bigger, thinner
iPhone 6 plans leaked: Bigger, thinner

John Matarese has a preview of Apple's upcoming new iPhone.

Tesla could change the way you buy a car
Tesla could change the way you buy a car

John Matarese looks at the new controversy over car sales

Beware of home deed letters in your mailbox
Beware of home deed letters in your mailbox

John Matarese has a warning about a strange letter many people are receiving.

Best places to find free public Wi-Fi
Best places to find free public Wi-Fi

John Matarese lists the best places for finding free public Wi-Fi and a caution before you use the service.