What To Know About Child Identity Theft

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When you’re a parent, you want to protect your child from all possible threats, but one of the overlooked possible problems that your child could face is identity theft. A criminal could potentially find your child’s name online and use their personal information to do things like open credit card accounts and get loans. 

The following are some things every parent should know about child identity theft and how to prevent it. 

What Is Child Identity Theft?

Fraudulent people can compromise your child’s identity, just like they would an adult’s. If a bad actor is able to get their hands on your child’s personal information, it could be years of trying to recover from it. 

Child identity theft can happen in a lot of different ways, and there’s a lot of personal information that criminals can get their hands on. 

While there are a lot of similarities between child and adult identity theft, some experts feel that children’s personal information is vulnerable in a unique way. The reason for this is that the fraud can go on for years without detection. For some children who get their identity stolen, it’s not until they try and do something like apply for the first credit card that they find out their identity has been stolen. 

Because of how long identity thief has available when they steal a child’s identity, they could potentially do a lot of things with it, including getting a driver’s license and a job, and they might make large purchases like cars or homes. 

It’s also somewhat easy in the scheme of things. A thief can pair essentially any name and birthdate with a Social Security number they steal, and they’ve created an entirely false identity. 

How It Happens

What a thief can steal when they steal a child’s identity depends on the information shared by or about your child. 

Phishing scams are notoriously common ways for criminals to get access to children’s information. In a phishing scam, which most often occurs through email, criminals will trick someone into giving them their personal information. 

Hacking is another way that the identity of children is stolen. 

Unfortunately, theft among family members can also happen. A fair amount of child identity theft occurs within families. A member of the family could potentially take documents that have important information on them and then open accounts in a child’s name. Their close proximity to the child makes it especially easy for this type of theft to go undetected for long periods of time. 

The Warning Signs of Child Identity Theft

There can be a wide variety of signs of child identity theft, some of which can include:

  • Your child receives communication from the IRS. If you get any type of communication, including a letter or past-due notice from the IRS, to your child, then it could be that your child’s identity has been stolen. Your children obviously don’t file taxes, so the IRS isn’t going to contact them directly unless there’s an issue, including a compromised identity. If you get any communication from the IRS addressed to your child, contact them immediately. 
  • A red flag of child identity theft can include getting collection calls or mailed notices of past-due bills that are in your child’s name. You should first check and make sure that it’s not an error and that the notices aren’t meant for you. If that’s not the case, then there’s the possibility of your child’s identity being compromised. 
  • If your children start to get pre-approval offers of credit in the mail, you should take steps to check their credit report. 
  • Another red flag of identity theft is if your child is denied government benefits. Their Social Security number could be associated with a benefit account that’s already being used. If your child is denied Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits or Medicaid benefits, for example, you should look at their report if they have one. 
  • If your child is a teen, they might be rejected for student loans and financial aid, and that could be your first indicator that there’s a problem. 

If you think something is going on with your child’s identity, you can see if they have a credit report on file. Some credit reporting companies will have a Child Identity Theft Inquiry form you can complete online. 

You should contact each of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Transunion, and Experian—to see if they have credit reports on file. 

Protecting Your Child

One of the best things you can do to protect your child’s identity is to put a freeze on their credit if they have a credit report. When you put a credit freeze on, it means not even a lender can access their credit report unless you give your permission. Even if your child doesn’t have a credit report yet, you should still be able to add a freeze until they’re old enough to apply for credit on their own. 

If you’re freezing for a minor, you’ll typically need to submit a written request. With that, you may have to submit supporting documents to show that you have the ability to act on behalf of the minor, and you’ll need to prove your identity too. 

You should only share personal information about your child when it’s completely necessary, especially their Social Security number. Even when you’re sharing it in places like schools or medical offices, make sure you provide it only when it’s absolutely required. 

You can enroll in an identity monitoring program for everyone in your family, and as your child gets older, remember that education can be one of the best methods of prevention. Teach your child how to safeguard their private information and also how to behave safely and responsibly online. 

Finally, if you are at a point where you believe that your child’s identity is compromised, you need to figure out, if possible, what information was stolen. If it involves a Social Security number, contact the major credit bureaus and lock your child’s file. If an account was opened in your child’s name, contact the financial institution and tell them what happened. You should also report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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Eric
26 days ago

Thanks to share this great piece of content. Learned a lot of from this.