Thieves who steal children's identities use them to purchase handguns, ring up thousands of dollars of purchases and apply for loans.
The Coalition for a Secure Driver's License program is starting in Sequim to raise awareness of how to protect children's identities through Keeping Identities Safe, KIDS, which encourages parents/guardians to obtain Washington ID cards for their children.
"We don't have a problem here compared to many other places," said Brian Zimmer, president of Coalition for a Secure Driver's License.
"This is a rural area with a lot of kids and many rural communities are being targeted because they aren't ready for something like this."
In Sequim and Port Angeles, CSDL is offering free IDs for children through the Department of Licensing through Feb. 16, 2010. Former Sequim resident and CSDL chairman Don Kendall recommended the pilot program be started through the Boys & Girls Clubs.
"I'm pleased to help protect children's identities from theft and fraud. Helping parents obtain state-issued ID cards for their children will work to protect our youngest citizens," Kendall said.
Steps for free child ID
_ Step 1: Pick up an informational brochure and reimbursement voucher between 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday at the Carroll C. Kendall Boys & Girls Club, 400 W. Fir St., Sequim, or the Port Angeles Boys & Girls Club from 2-6 p.m. Monday-Friday at 2620 S. Francis St.
_ Step 2: Parents/guardians and the child can obtain an ID card from 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Thursdays; and 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturdays at the Department of Licensing, 228 W. First St., Ste. M, Port Angeles. An enhanced ID, for travel outside the U.S., requires an appointment.
_ Step 3: Parents/guardians bring the child, the ID or temporary ID card and completed voucher to either of the Boys & Girls Clubs. The reimbursement will be made through a check.
Arrangements for transportation to the licensing department can be made through the Sequim Boys & Girls Club at 683-8095.
Child ID theft
by the numbers
A Federal Trade Commission study disclosed in 2007 that more than 30,000 children in America had become victims of identity fraud.
Zimmer said because thieves access biographical information that children enter on Web sites, parents need to be aware of their child's Internet activity.
"Once a child's identity has been taken over by an adult criminal, it will cause the parents a lot more time and trouble than by taking a few precautionary steps early on," Zimmer said.
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula executive director Bob Schilling agrees.
"We can't stop identity thieves, but if there comes a time when our community is particularly targeted, this campaign will reduce the impact," he said.
"For our youth organizations in the community that need to keep records of the children who participate in sponsored activities, it will really help when parents can provide a state-issued ID for a child."
More information can be found at www.secure-license.org.
ID theft prevention methods
_ Secure a child's legal documents such as a birth certificate or Social Security card in a safe or deposit box
_ Teach a child never to give out his/her personal information without the parent or legal guardian's consent.
_ Obtain a state-issued ID card for the child. Get the child's full legal name and other biographical information into the state Department of Licensing record system along with correct and complete parent/guardians' names and addresses. Washington issues ID cards to children as young as 1-month-old with a parent/guardian accompanying them proving their identity.
_ Protect the child's identity from long-term harm by being attentive to credit offers or mail solicitations addressed to the child.
_ Be aware of a child's use of the Internet, especially programs that share biographical information.