Consumer advocates want every school child to learn about preventing identity theft. And, while the uninitiated might think that’s a little extreme, Zach Friesen isn’t one of them.
Friesen was 17 when he discovered someone had used his identity to buy a $40,000 houseboat. Friesen was 7 years old and just mastering a two-wheeler when the purchase was made. Neither he nor his mother know how his personal information was obtained. They suspect it might have originated with a visit to the pediatrician’s office and a request to supply the boy’s Social Security number.
The identity theft was brought to light when Friesen was turned down for a student loan and a job because of his disastrous credit history. He spent the next 10 years working to clear up errors in his financial records and credit report. He is now a spokesman for LifeLock identity theft protection, and tells his story every chance he gets.
The recent push for identity theft education comes on the heels of a first-ever report on child identity theft. According to the research conducted by Javelin Strategy and Research, one in five children – that’s at least one child in every classroom — is already an identity theft victim, though most probably won’t learn of their victimization until they’re much older.