A mother from New Jersey is seeking answers about a potential child identity theft case after her family got a letter informing them of her daughter's jury duty schedule.
Laura Behrmann informed CBS New York that the jury duty letter, with the official U.S. District Court letterhead, came as a surprise because only voters on the registration list should receive this notice. However, her daughter, Madison, is only three years old, which means her identity on a government voter's list should not even exist.
The mom is curious and concerned about how the court got Madison's name and address. She implied that perhaps a child identity theft might have taken place after filing a police report.
"Did somebody vote in her name?" Behrmann said. "Is there somebody impersonating her out there, credit cards, taking out a loan in her name?"
Kids Targeted Just Like Adults
Cyber security expert Ian Marlow said that children are targets just as much as adults when it comes to identity theft. He warned that it could "happen for years under your nose" and by the time the person finds out "massive damage" might have been done.
Marlow advised parents to contact a credit agency and make a request for "locking credit," which will prevent unscrupulous individuals from opening a new account using someone else's identity. Per the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), stolen identities are used for loans, credit card or utility service applications, claiming government benefits, or even in rental contracts.
Parents may also run a free credit report regularly for themselves and for their children. Per the FTC, children under 18 years old should not have any credit report and if they turn out to have one, it could be an indication that someone has been using the child's identity for fraud.
Moms and dads also have to be more conscious of protecting important details like birthdays or Social Security numbers. The FTC suggested shredding documents that are no longer needed or completely deleting personal information on a computer or cellphone if parents are disposing of digital gadgets.
Parents must also be wary of school employees asking for their children's complete Social Security number. While this may seem official and harmless, many identity theft cases could arise from willingly divulging information to someone they are familiar with.
No Voter Registration
Madison's mom has informed the court of the mistake and has asked that she be taken off the list for jury duty. Despite the worrying incident, Behrmann still managed to be humorous about the idea of a toddler doing her civic duty.
"She might be really good at it," Behrmann said. "But she will need an adult to take her to the bathroom."
Meanwhile, the mom was informed by a state senator that they looked into Madison's case and said that her daughter is not a registered New Jersey voter. Thus, it's still a wonder how the court has her name and address for jury duty.
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