Adults aren't the only ones who can have their identity stolen.
Tens of millions of American children had their Social Security numbers, date of birth and health care ID numbers stolen in the recent data breach at health insurance giant, Anthem Inc. This exposes these kids to the real risk of identity theft.
"Every terrible outcome that can occur as the result of an identity theft will happen to the children who were on that database," said Adam Levin, chairman and founder of IDentityTheft 911. "Criminals will use those stolen Social Security numbers to open accounts, get medical treatment, commit tax fraud, you name it."
Tim Rohrbaugh, chief experience officer at Identity Guard, calls the Anthem breach "catastrophic" and predicts the stolen information "will be used in waves of financial crimes" against American children for decades.
"This is a watershed event," Rohrbaugh said. "There is no other bulk acquisition of this much personal data—names, birthdates, addresses and Social Security numbers—that I am aware of in history."
And because the children's information was linked to their parents' data, it will make it much easier for cybercriminals to commit fraud against the parents as well, Rohrbaugh said.
The Social Security number was never supposed to be used as a national identifier, but it's become that. For an identity thief, that nine-digit number is the brass ring. It's the skeleton key that unlocks your life.