Kids may be victims of identity theft
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By Alan BlighA new online scheme targeting children threatens the most important form of identity they have, their Social Security number.
How does the scam work?
1) Scammers set up online companies and use computers and publicly available information to find random Social Security numbers. They are seeking SSNs that are dormant, which most often belong to children.
2) The numbers are run through public databases to determine whether anyone is using them to obtain credit or if there is debt attached to them. Those that are identified as active by the three main credit reporting bureaus - TransUnion, Experian and Equifax - are discarded.
3) Once the scammer steals the dormant Social Security number, they change the person's name and attempt to sell it for a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Craigslist has reported ads have been on their website.
4) Others buy the stolen numbers to establish phony credit, apply for loans and run up huge debts. The child may not know anything has happened for years until they grow up and try to apply for a line of credit.
How to protect your children
Check your child's credit report every year. Equifax, TransUnion and Experian allow one free credit report each year. This will show if anyone has opened a loan, credit card or run up a debt using your child's number.
Avoid leaving digital footprints. Because the majority of these ID thefts are using online resources, carefully monitor your child's Internet activity. Teach them to never give out their personal information and always look for the "https" or "lock" symbol if they make an online purchase.
San Antonio business gets 'F'
BBB has issued an 'F' rating to Alamo Business Brokers for failure to respond to consumer complaints. The San Antonio-based business broker and financial services company assists consumers in handling the purchase of businesses for sale. Generally, the consumer pays the company a good faith deposit with the promise of a refund, if requested, during a two week "discovery period." However, disputes received by BBB allege the company fails to refund these deposits of up to $5,000. Additionally, several consumers claim they received refunds only to have the checks bounce days later. Advice for buying/selling a business:
Research brokers with BBB.
Avoid high advance fees.
Get professional advice and
Read contracts carefully.
Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by e-mail at abligh@corpus christi.bbb.org.