Children are vulnerable to all sorts of crimes. One such crime that is often not discovered until several years later is child identity theft. It’s a silent and insidious crime that is perpetrated not only by strangers, but, also, by the people closest to them, such as a family member. Whether it’s a stranger or uncle committing the crime, the result is the same — a child’s personal information is exploited for personal gain to open new lines of credit, apply for credit and debit cards, car loans, mortgages, or utilities.
Child Identity Theft Awareness At Home
The damage reaped from child identity theft should not be taken lightly. It can jeopardize your child’s future financial health.
- Regularly check your child’s credit report for erroneous information and monitor their social security number for improper use.
- When asked, don’t automatically share your child’s social security number with any agency or organization, unless absolutely necessary. Often, another form of identification is acceptable.
- Go through your junk mail with a fine tooth comb, looking into any correspondence addressed to your child, e.g. pre-approved credit card offers, extended warranty offers on product purchases never made, etc.
- Use a cross-cut shredder to shred any paperwork you no longer need that contains your child’s personal information.
- Remind your child to never share their personal information online, e.g. name, address, age, the name of the school they attend, or any other personally identifiable information that could be used to open accounts in their name.
- Keep your child’s personal documents in a safe place.
- Subscribe to a service such as ChildWatch that comprehensively and proactively monitors your child’s identity, privacy, and credit.
- The FTC Consumer Information website, also, provides additional advice, such as identifying anybody else who may have access to your child’s personal information, e.g. outside programs offered at your child’s school.
Unfortunately, child identity theft is here to stay. Be prudent and pay careful attention to how and when you disclose your child’s information. The last thing a parent would want is for their child to be denied a driver’s license because one has already been issued with their child’s name and social security number, or being denied a car loan due to bad credit.