A New Tool for Child Identity Theft: Facebook
February 1, 2012
Vanessa here with AllClear ID. We report frequently on the issues surrounding child identity theft, and the latest scam we’re seeing involves Facebook.
Julie Chambers from Hull, England recently discovered a fraudulent Facebook page with pictures of herself and her daughter, Zoe, who died in 2008 after undergoing heart surgery. The site was taking donations for a transplant for Zoe, who was born with a heart valve that was too narrow.
The Facebook page, traced back to Jamaica, asked visitors to “share” the link, which would result in a free heart transplant if 1,000 people participate. The page also accepted donations to a personal PayPal account. Though Chambers contacted police, she was told she doesn’t have a case because money wasn’t been directly stolen from her.
Often, an identity thief will steal a deceased child’s Social Security number because of ease in access. The fast turnover between death and theft might happen when the Social Security Administration publishes the numbers and other information in its “Death Master File”. This information can be bought by genealogy websites and other subscribers, who can publish the information online.
This was the case for the Agin family from Baltimore, who, within 24 hours of their four-year-old daughter’s death, were confronted by identity theft when they filed for a tax extension. “We were left to prove that our deceased daughter is, in fact, our daughter,” Jonathan Agin told the Huffington Post.
Identity theft scammers see children as an attractive target because they don’t have credit reports, therefore they don’t have credit problems, so they’re essentially blank slates.
To fight back, Jamie, our Chief Investigator at AllClearID, has some advice for limiting the risk of child identity theft.