Child Identity Theft: Here’s How to Protect Your Kids

by Ashley Eneriz · 0 comments

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You want to protect your children from all that you can as a parent – kidnapping, bullies, diseases, and even hurt feelings. However, you might not be aware of the risk of child identity theft.

Children are a target for identity theft because they have a clean slate. Plus, it can take years before the fraud is even detected. If a child’s identity is stolen at a young age, they might not even notice the error until they request their first credit report or apply for their first line of credit as a teenager. By then, the paper trail of the thief would be hard to trace down. So what do you do? Here are a few suggestions.

How to Protect Your Child from Identity Theft

The number one priority is to be aware of what information you are giving out to others. For example, it might seem harmless to quickly ramble off your child’s birth date and social security at the doctor’s office, but there could be someone listening. It’s best to write this on a piece of paper and then destroy the paper shortly afterward. In fact, many of the places that ask for social security numbers actually don’t need them. When you fill out forms (say at a doctor’s office), make it a habit to ask whether you must give out your child’s social security number and only offer it if they have a compelling reason why it’s necessary for them to have it.

Same with other identifying information. Don’t give out your child’s full name or birth date unless it’s absolutely necessary. For example, if your teen wants to sign up for a social media or a game account, make sure they don’t use their real information to protect against cyber theft.

You can also request a credit report for your child but it will take a bit of work. You will need to provide proper documentation, including copies of a birth certificate, a social security card, your address and your driver’s license. Hopefully, the report will come back with no credit, which is what you want. If not, then at least you can start disputing the information sooner rather than later.

Family members, close friends, or even babysitters can be the main suspects of child identity theft because they have the easiest access to your information. It’s wise to keep important documentation, such as birth certificates and social security cards, locked away in a small safe.

Signs to Look Out For

While most child identity theft goes unnoticed, these signs should be major giveaways that something is wrong:

  • If your teen is denied access to a driver’s license due to already having one
  • If your child receives calls from collection agencies
  • If your child receives pre-approved credit card offers

What Should You Do If Your Child’s Identity Is Stolen?

The first thing to do is to take a deep breath and calm yourself down. While this is a horrible situation, it can be fixed.

You then want to go into your local law enforcement office and file a police report. This is to get the crime recorded. They can also be a helpful resource for what to do next.

You also want to contact the credit bureaus as soon as possible too. If there is credit activity on your child’s account, you can request to have the account frozen. This will prevent any further use of the account by the thieves.

If you catch your child’s identity theft early, then you have many years to clear their record. Fighting credit card theft is a long and lengthy process, but it can be done. Make sure to record every person you speak to over the phone during the process and keep any important papers organized.

Child identity theft is something all parents should be aware of and something they should inform their children when they are old enough to understand the severity of the situation.

How do you protect your child’s identity?

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