Scammers Snatch Social Security Numbers Of Children

There's a new scam involving Social Security numbers that is targeting kids.

Authorities say hundreds of online businesses are using computers to find unused Social Security numbers. Those numbers are usually assigned to children who don't use them. In other words, the number has not been used to open a bank account or a passport.

Scam artists are finding the numbers, then selling them under another name to help people get phony credit that they never pay off.

Authorities say the scheme could pose a new threat to the nation's credit system. Because the numbers exist in a legal gray area, federal investigators have not figured out a way to prosecute the people involved.

"If people are obtaining enough credit by fraud, we're back to another financial collapse," said Linda Marshall, an assistant U.S. attorney in Kansas City. "We tend to talk about it as the next wave."

The sellers get around the law by not referring to Social Security numbers. Instead, they refer to CPNs — for credit profile, credit protection or credit privacy numbers.

The scheme works like this:

Online companies use computers and publicly available information to find random Social Security numbers. The numbers are run through public databases to determine whether anyone is using them to obtain credit. If not, they are offered for sale for a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

Because the numbers often come from young children who have no money of their own, they carry no spending history and offer a chance to open a new, unblemished line of credit. People who buy the numbers can then quickly build their credit rating in a process called "piggybacking," which involves linking to someone else's credit file.

Many of the business selling the numbers promise to raise customers' credit scores to 700 or 800 within six months.

If they default on their payments, and the credit is withdrawn, the same people can simply buy another number and start the process again, causing a steep spiral of debt that could conceivably go on for years before creditors discover the fraud.

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  • by Marsha Location: Blounts Creek on Aug 3, 2010 at 08:43 PM
    I have an idea...why don't we just explain the scam a little more in detail and everyone can do it????Hellooooo!!!! Have you ever heard of TMI?
  • by JC Location: Williamston on Aug 3, 2010 at 08:25 PM
    If people can get arrested or charged w/ a crime for using a minor's SS#, can't the parents who do the same thing? I've seen plenty of instances where parents use their kids SS#'s to obtain credit unlawfully. Would this fall in the same area, or another "grey area?"
  • by Scott Location: Gville on Aug 3, 2010 at 06:56 AM
    Yeah , this does not surprise me ; When I was 10 I subsequently financed a house and 2 new cars on my credit
  • by The Pirate Lady Location: Grimesland on Aug 3, 2010 at 06:32 AM
    I remember seeing a story about a year or so ago where a baby's SSN was being used in the way this story describes. The parents were having a hard time clearing the baby's record, if you can believe it.
  • by RA Location: Greenville on Aug 3, 2010 at 06:21 AM
    I thought it was illegal to sell something that didn't belong to you. Why can't the government prosecute the people who sell information that doesn't belong to them?
  • by WITN Location: WITN on Aug 3, 2010 at 05:00 AM
    We found some more details to better explain the scam and updated the story. Thanks for your questions!
  • by ryan Location: jacksonville on Aug 3, 2010 at 04:38 AM
    My question is, unused social security numbers? I thought the numbers were issued when you applied for one? So someone can access the database and get numbers? Maybe I'm reading the story wrong or just not understanding what it says.
  • by Tim Location: Raleigh on Aug 3, 2010 at 04:15 AM
    This nation's credit system is broken...poses a threat?! All of it is a scam. They "illegally" collect and store YOUR data, then charge companies money to look at it. If something is "wrong" or if there is "fraud," it is YOUR problem and YOU are forced to fix it. To add INSULT to INJURY, they offer, AT A PRICE, Identity theft protection insurance.... ROSEBUD, the US Supreme Court ruled that the prosecution (the State) must prove that the person that is caught using a "stolen" identity KNEW that the identity (SSN) was stolen....This ruling was a boon for illegals that are using stolen US citizens' identities for employment purposes. Of course, the US citizens are then being targetted by the IRS for failling to report income! And then it is the citizens' problem to PROVE it wasn't their income. Oh, then ask the SSA for a new SSN and see the stupidity of government in action....
  • by Rosebud Location: Lagrange on Aug 3, 2010 at 03:45 AM
    Haven't found a way to prosecute???????

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