Is someone using your child’s personal or financial information to make purchases, get benefits, files taxes or commit fraud? That’s child identity theft! In 2018, more than 1 million children in the U.S. were victims of identity theft, with two-thirds under the age of eight, according to a news report from NBC News.
What Are the Warning Signs?
Several signs can tip you off that someone is using your child’s personal. Some include being turned down for government benefits or getting bills for services you don’t receive.
Fixing the Damage
In order to repair your child’s identity, you must:
If you receive mail in your child’s name, contact the companies where the fraud occurred. It is important to let the fraud department know someone has opened a fraudulent account in your child’s name.
Contact the credit bureaus to see if your child has a credit report. The credit bureaus can assist you with the process. If you find anything suspicious, consider freezing your child’s credit through the credit bureaus until the child is old enough to use it. This restricts access to your child’s credit file, making it more difficult for thieves to open accounts in your child’s name.
Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Visit identitytheft.gov or call 877-ID-THEFT.
Protecting Your Child
If someone is using your child’s personal or financial information, you can take steps to protect your child’s identity. They include:
Find a safe location for all paper and electronic records that show your child’s information.
Don’t share your child’s Social Security number unless you know and trust the other party. Make sure to ask why it’s necessary and how it will be protected.
Shred all documents that show your child’s personal information before throwing them away.
Be aware of any events that put your child’s information at risk, such as if you lose your wallet, purse or paperwork, or if there’s a break-in at your home, school, doctor’s office or business affected by a data breach.
When your child turns 13, it’s a good idea to check whether your child has a credit report by visiting annualcreditreport.com close to the child’s birthday. If you froze your child’s credit due to fraud or misuse, you will have the opportunity to correct it before the child applies for a job, a loan for tuition or a car, or needs to rent an apartment. You’ll also need to lift the credit freeze before your child applies for any new credit in the future.
For more information about child identity theft and how to protect your child, download our child safety tips and tricks (please note that the guide will open in a new window in a portable document format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Please make sure Adobe Acrobat Reader is up to date with the latest version).