Protect children from identity theft

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, August 3, 2016

According to a 2012 survey, 1 in 40 US families with children under the age of 18 had at least one of their children’s information compromised. Identity thieves target children’s social security numbers and other information because it’s likely that the fraud won’t be discovered for many years until your child becomes an adult and applies for credit on their own behalf.

There are many ways your child’s identity can be fraudulently used — to apply for a credit card or a loan from a bank, to obtain a driver’s license, public benefits or employment.

Prevention is easier than dealing with the aftermath of identity theft. Safeguard your child’s social security number — don’t carry their card with you, and before you give it to anyone ask why it is needed and if there would be another way to identify your child. Periodically request a credit report for your child from one of the three reporting agencies — you should be told that there is no credit report since that shouldn’t happen until your child’s first credit application as an adult.

Email newsletter signup

The Federal Trade Commission identifies three key warnings that someone has been misusing your child’s identity — an application for government benefits is rejected because someone using your child’s name is already receiving them, the IRS notifies your child that they haven’t paid any income tax or that their SSN has been used on another tax return, or you receive bills addressed to your child for products they didn’t order or receive.

If any of these warning signs occur there are steps you can take to remedy the situation and clear up your child’s credit. Using someone else’s identity for some sort of gain is a criminal act and one option is to report the crime to law enforcement. It sometimes happens that the parent knows the identity thief and may be hesitant to involve law enforcement. Choosing to not report the ID theft as a crime may result in being held accountable for any financial benefit that was obtained from using your child’s identity.

If you would like more information about identify theft or help in reporting, please call an advocate at the Crime Victims Resource Center, 507-437-6680.