5-year-old put into huge debt after identity gets stolen from his Doctor’s office.
By 5-years of age, little Gavin Karpinsky had already run up adult-sized debts. Not by his own doing either. The child was a victim of identity theft. Sad to tell, he is just one child among millions and it’s rapidly becoming a trend.
In 2017, one million children had their identities stolen. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, “two-thirds of the victims were under the age of eight.” The lack of financial history is attractive to fraudsters because it gives them time to activate many accounts.
In Gavin’s case, his personal info was acquired from a security breach at his doctor’s office. A hacker stole his data from computer medical files. The thief then used Gavin’s info to accumulate up at least 12 different bills. Heather, Gavin’s mom, says that the first sign was receiving junk mail in Gavin’s name. On July 2, 2018, she received a collection bill for Gavin that surprised her. It was for $180 but found it odd since she hadn’t ordered anything for him. The very next day is when she received notification from the medical provider that Gavin’s information had been stolen.
“I never knew this could happen. I was shocked. I’ve heard of identity theft, my husband had identity theft, but I didn’t know it could happen to someone so young,” says Gavin’s mother.
The Javelin study revealed that child identity theft cost families over $2.6 billion last year. To best protect children from identity theft, experts recommend doing two things: freezing your child’s credit and signing up for credit monitoring. Since the incident, Heather has placed freezes on Gavin’s credit. She also contracted a credit monitoring service and reported their situation to the police.
It’s an ugly way to become fraud aware, but at least Gavin’s family is able to ensure that he doesn’t get defrauded again.