Many of us have heard news about identity theft, along with the warnings on how to avoid it. But, do you know that children, including yours, can fall prey to identity predators, too? According to an FTC report, 6 percent of identity theft victims are people 20 years old and below, and these statistics include young children and infants. When ID thieves effectively obtain an identity, they can take out credit cards, rent a house and even get a mortgage using the child’s name.
As a parent, do you have a good understanding of child identity theft as well as to protect your child from identity theft? Keep in mind that whenever you give out your child’s social security number and other personal identifying information, you should take extra precautionary measures, because the last thing you may want to happen to your child is to become a victim of identity theft.
Why do thieves have to target children?
Basically, a child has a clean credit record, and this is what thieves are aiming for. Since creditors and lenders will favor someone with a clean record rather than someone with bad credit, they will be more likely to accept the thief’s application using the child’s good name. Plus, children are not yet taking fail-safe methods to secure their identity, unlike adults who are more aware of the depth of the crime. They see kids as more lucrative targets, because the only time the problem may come to light is when they reach legal age and started checking their own credit or applying for a line of credit themselves, giving criminals ample time to hide their crime while continuously devastating the child’s identity. Therefore, the earlier the thieves started misusing a child’s identity, the longer they can exploit that victim’s credit.
What signs should warn you that your child is being victimized by id theft?
In order to know if your child’s identity is stolen, you should be vigilant in spotting any of these red flags:
• Pre-approved credit card offers – If your child receives unsolicited offers from credit card companies at a very young age, it may be a sign of identity theft.
• Collection agencies looking for your child – Are there collection agencies calling you for an unpaid bill in your child’s name? Don’t take this simply as a case of mistaken identity, there’s a chance that thieves have actually opened up a line of credit with your child’s identity and left it unpaid.
• Account statements from Social Security – SS account statements are records of annual contributions or benefit claims and these are usually sent to people who have a job. So, unless your kid has a job, receiving a social security account statement in the name of your child is indicative of identity fraud or theft.
Child identity theft protection: four important things to remember
Keep personal identifying information private – never share your child’s identifying information, especially his/her social security number and full name, to someone who has no legal business with you. A child’s social security number, along with the full name and date of birth, are what a thief needs to hijack your child’s identity.
Keep every one of your child’s documents at home safe and locked in a secure place. Ask questions if you must – if you are asked by the school, pediatrician or other organizations for your child’s social security number, don’t hesitate to ask why they need it and how they are going to protect it. Also, try asking if it’s okay if you give them another form of identification apart from your child’s social security information.
Finally, ask who will have access to your child’s information and how they are going to dispose of your child’s information afterwards. Watch out for the red flags – the warning signs mentioned above, such as phone calls or emails, concerning your child’s credit should not be taken lightly. Always watch out for these suspicious activities, because they indicate fraud. Educate children about online safety.
In the modern day we live in, children have become more inclined to use the power of the Internet. But, it’s also a place where identity thieves usually thrive. Emphasize to your kids not to give out their personal information and the passwords and usernames to their online accounts to strangers they met online. They should also avoid visiting unfamiliar sites or clicking strange links to prevent viruses and malware from invading their computer, because this method can be used by criminals to access their private information.