The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 17.6 million U.S. residents were victims of identity theft in 2014. Idtheftcenter.org, a nonprofit service organization that helps victims, reported a 300 percent increase in calls during 2014 related to child identity theft.
Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway has announced a cybersecurity audit initiative for Missouri schools to “focus on identifying practices that improve the security of information schools have on students and their families.”
Galloway said that the nonprofit organization, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, is reporting that “more than 250 K-12 schools across the United States experienced a data breach event” in the last 10 years.
Waynesville School District in Pulaski County is on the list of the first schools to experience the audit.
Schools are not the only place individuals should be guarding against identity theft.
Andrea Rigsby, of Phelps County said in an interview, that her 6-year-old son was a victim, along with herself, nearly seven years ago due to her own activity.
Rigsby said she had been downloading music
to her MP3 player using a popular site and wasn’t aware that a box in the settings was checked.
The box said “open source” and according to information given by Rigsby, this allowed people to see what was on her desktop.
Rigsby said she’d had her tax return saved to her desktop and someone published it online.
Rigsby said she only discovered that it had happened thanks to a good samaritan from Nebraska tracking her down, after seeing it online.
Individuals began to claim Rigsby’s son on their taxes causing Rigsby to be audited every year by the IRS and forcing her to provide all of his information such as a birth certificate and Social Security card.
“I had to get him a brand new Social Security number,” Rigsby said.
The process for obtaining her child a new Social Security number wasn’t an easy one, according to Rigsby.
She said she had to “fight” to get him a new one and former U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson had to get involved for her to get it accomplished.
Rigsby said she was unable to get her own Social Security number changed.
“Her (Emerson’s) help took the better part of a year,” Rigsby said.
In addition to the fraudulent claims of her son on tax returns, Rigsby reported that individuals took out “a lot of credit cards and phone accounts” in her name forcing her to spend a lot of time trying to straighten things out.
Currently, Rigsby has a permanent freeze on her Social Security number, meaning that anytime anyone tries to use it to obtain credit, it has been flagged.