Your Guide to Detect & Prevent Child Identity Theft
As a parent, you want to give your child the best financial start you can in life. Unfortunately, children are one of the most common targets for identity thieves. Here's what you need to know about detecting and preventing childhood identity theft.
Why Child Identity Theft Is So Prevalent
Children are prime targets for thieves because it's likely the theft won't be detected for years. Kids don't typically use their credit, and parents may not suspect anything is wrong until their child tries to apply for a student loan or their first apartment and is turned down for bad credit. Thieves will also try to use a child's social security number to fraudulently apply for income tax refunds or government benefits. Since years may have passed since the actual theft occurred, it's harder for the authorities to investigate and prosecute the crime.
The Signs of Child Identity Theft
To keep your child's credit safe, it's essential to recognize the warning signs of child identity theft. Here are a few things to watch out for:
- Your child receives credit card offers in the mail
- You receive notices from the IRS or other government entities
- Notices or phone calls from collection agencies target your child
What to Do If You Suspect Child Identity Theft
If you suspect that someone is trying to or has already stolen your child's identity, it's possible to repair the damage. Start by requesting your child's credit report to determine if their identity has been compromised. Be prepared to provide documentation that proves you're their parent, like a birth or adoption certificate and your child's social security card. Should you discover identity theft, you'll want to contact both the credit bureau and the company where the theft occurred to report the account.
Produce a written statement that explains your child is a minor and that someone else opened an account in their name. Be ready to provide verification of their age and identity. Keep a written log of whomever you converse with regarding your child's identity theft.
How to Prevent Childhood Identity Theft
To prevent future identity theft, check your child's credit periodically to confirm they don't have a credit report. This doesn't need to be done as frequently as you would check your own credit report, since your child won't be using their credit until they turn 18.
Once you confirm your child's credit is safe, you might consider freezing their credit until they're old enough to use it. A credit freeze prevents financial institutions from accessing your child's credit, making it harder for thieves to open accounts in their name.
Avoid giving out your child's social security number unless it's absolutely necessary. Always shred any documents that contain your child's personal or sensitive information.
Be aware of any data breaches at businesses or schools that might put your child's info at risk.
Free Financial Resources
For more information and financial resources to help you keep your credit, your finances and your child’s credit in good health, check out Banzai for expert tools and tips or call Clark County Credit Union to learn more at 702-228-2228.