The latest form of identity theft targets unused Social Security numbers that could belong to a relative who’s passed away or children who don’t even have bank accounts! According to MSNBC, the new scam works like this: Identity thieves use special computer software to generate random Social Security numbers. Then, they plug those numbers into public databases, to determine if someone has ever used them to obtain credit. If not, then the “clean” numbers are sold online to people who are looking for a quick-fix to improve their credit.
Right now, that’s a lot of people: Statistics show there are 44 million people in North America who can’t get loans, because their FICO score is too low. Police worry that banks are so focused on credit scores these days, that they may not check to see if a Social Security number on an application is legitimate. That’s bad news if a thief uses your child’s number, because the crime could go undetected for years before they’re old enough to need credit. In fact, we’ve talked recently about how many parents are doing this to their own children. The problem is that by the time anyone finds out about the crime, your child’s credit history is usually ruined. There are basically two sides to this scam that we want to warn you about:
- First: If you’re struggling to get a loan right now, beware of any company that offers to sell you a new credit file using something called a CPN – which usually stands for “credit profile number.” That CPN is most likely someone else’s Social Security number in disguise. If you’re caught using it, you could go to jail!
- Also: If you’re a parent, you need to be aware of the red flags that someone is using your child’s Social Security number. The most common warning is if pre-approved credit card offers in your child’s name start showing up in the mail. Another sign is if collection agencies call your home, asking for your child by name.
To learn more about this scam, or to find tips to help you repair your credit legally, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center at IDTheftCenter.org.