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Protect Your Children’s Data

Most Internet users have heard of the Dark Web. It’s the hidden layer of the Internet where almost anything goes. Cybercriminals use the Dark Web to sell all sorts of illicit products and services.

Paid in fullz
A hot commodity on the Dark Web is called fullz—a full bundle of collected data that includes someone’s name, Social Security number, birth date, account numbers, and more. Fullz information makes it easier for fraudsters to take an unsuspecting victim’s personal and financial information and commit fraud.

Today, Fullz kits containing children’s data are commanding the highest Dark Web marketplace prices. Baby and toddler IDs are attractive because they provide fresh data that’s never been exploited before.

In a chilling story recently released by business technology news site ZDNet, one seller who regularly deals in this information re-emerged in January this year. They claim to have hacked into a pediatrician’s office, offering buyers information on children as young as four years old.

Fictitious people
Most identity theft comes from the exploitation of actual adult identities. However, stolen child data is often used to create fabricated synthetic identities. This is where the fraudster uses a combination of fake information, such as a fake name, and real data, like a child’s Social Security number, to create a fabricated account. This type of scheme is harder to detect because, in many cases, the crime won’t be discovered for years. These credentials enable fraudsters to open fake credit accounts, make fraudulent purchases, or file fraudulent tax claims.

Steps to take
No one wants their child’s credit rating to be destroyed. Children are most vulnerable because they don’t know about online risks and often have no say about what data is collected and shared. Therefore, cybersecurity firm TraceSecurity asks parents to get involved in order to protect their children from this type of fraud:

Order your children’s credit reports every year, just as you do for yourselves. You can get them from each of the three major credit bureaus at no charge at annualcreditreport.com. You will know quickly if there is reason for concern. Consider who really needs the Social Security number of your children. Often, schools ask for them, but ask if there is another way your child can be identified. If not, be sure to ask the school what measures they take to keep the information secured.

If you receive credit card applications addressed to your child or calls from creditors claiming your kids are in default on a loan, pay attention to it. Get the credit report and find out what is happening.

Immediately report any fraud to local law enforcement and to the Federal Trade Commission.

Consider freezing your child’s credit until they need it. As of September 2018, the bureaus can no longer charge for this service. If that doesn’t work for you, place a fraud alert on all Social Security numbers. This won’t stop anyone from committing fraud with your child’s information, but you’ll be alerted if something comes up on the credit report.

Resources: ZDNet, TraceSecurity, NerdWallet