5 Steps for Protecting Your Child from Identity Theft

by admin on July 2, 2011

By Jacelyn Thomas

Children make good targets for identity thieves merely because they’re vulnerable. Children don’t have credit and won’t be checking their credit reports until they’re adults, giving thieves more time to accumulate debt using the stolen IDs. A recent study from ID ANALYTICS discovered that more than 140,000 children are victims of identity theft each year. In order to protect your child from becoming a victim of this often overlooked crime, consider the following precautions:

  • Don’t divulge too much of their personal information: It’s a common sense measure, but many parents seem to forget that even seemingly insignificant information, such as birthdates, can be used by thieves to find additional information about your child. If your child is older and uses social networking sites such as Facebook, tell them to conceal exact birthdates and other personal facts that could serve as starting points for a thief.
  • Hide their social security number: Many forms and documents — whether for school, the doctor or little league — request your child’s social security number, even if it’s not completely necessary. Before relenting to giving it out, confirm whether or not it must be done, and ask how it will be secured. In most cases, however, try to keep it secret.
  • Secure their birth certificate: Much like their social security number, more organizations are asking for birth certificates to serve as proof of age. If it’s absolutely necessary, make a copy and provide it to the party requesting the document, and monitor their handling of it. When they’re finished, take it back and put it in a secure place.
  • Do not check their credit report: Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a good idea to check your child’s credit report, as they shouldn’t have one until they actually begin applying for credit. An established credit repot only gives thieves an easy starting point. Instead, contact social security to see if any income exists relating to your child’s social security number.
  • Beware of the warning signs: When an identity theft occurs, it’s typically accompanied by calls, letters and visits from debt collectors; unsolicited, pre-approved credit offers; a letter from the IRS stating that your child’s number listed on your tax return is a duplicate; and when your child’s prospective banker informs you that an account with their social security number has already been opened.

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