Protect Your Child From Identity Theft
Identity theft continues to grow in the United States – and it’s not just limited to adults. More than ever, criminals are also targeting children by using their Social Security numbers and personal information to obtain credit, loans and medical treatment.
Thieves target children primarily for two reasons. One, children have clean credit records, making it easy to create new accounts. Another reason is that crimes can go undiscovered for years because most parents don’t check to see if their children have credit records.
Here are signs to look for if your child’s information has been compromised:
- Pre-approved credit card offers, bills or financial offers arrive addressed to your child in the mail.
- Your child’s application for a savings account is denied because of poor credit.
- A credit report is already opened for your child.
As with many types of crime, awareness is key when it comes to prevention. Here are some tips to help safeguard your child’s information.
- Be diligent about protecting your child’s Social Security number. If you are unsure why someone is requesting it, ask to know why and find out if you are legally obligated to provide it.
- Shred documents with personal information, even names and addresses.
- Keep your child’s Social Security card and other personal information in a secure place.
- Make sure children are not posting personal information on social media.
- Don’t let them register for or sign up for any programs without your permission.
Experts advise checking up on your child’s credit no later than age 16, as they are approaching college and student loan applications. You can also contact the three nationwide credit bureaus to request that they search their database for a credit report in your child’s name.
In general, make sure to use the same precautions with your child’s personal information as you would your own. Know the warning signs, and don’t be afraid to take action.