A Social Security Administration (SSA) proposal that would allow child identity theft victims to receive new, clean Social Security numbers has the full backing of the Federal Trade Commission.
In February, the SSA invited other government agencies to comment on the proposal, which would allow the issuance of new Social Security numbers to children younger than 13 when the number is compromised by identity thieves.
Although the proposal is still informal, the FTC said in a letter to the SSA that the policy would “work to undo the harms resulting from misuse of the child’s SSN.”
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The FTC specifically noted that the new policy is beneficial to all children who have had their Social Security number compromised, even those who have not been victimized by financial fraud. For example, a child’s number could be stolen and used to gain employment, which causes no harm to the child but still compromises their number. The new regulation would not require parents to show that their child was harmed by the theft in order to have a new number issued.
Child identity theft is a serious issue in the U.S. Each year more than 142,000 cases of identity theft against minors are reviewed, the FTC pointed out in its letter supporting the proposal. Roughly 40,000 children currently have identity theft protection, but more than 10 percent of them are affected by fraudulent loans and accounts taken and opened using their Social Security numbers.
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Federal regulators are also working to include children ages 14 to 17 in the proposal, as fraudulent use of a SSN is often unknown until a child reaches age 16 or older.