Identity thieves often target children as their crime can go undetected for quite some time, often times only discovered when the child is much older. By then, their identity may have been used for years without their knowledge. Mow that they want to build credit, they're instead dealing with filing claims for fraudulent use.
Those who steal other's identities use social security numbers, names, addresses, birthdates and other personal data to establish credit, set up utility accounts, receive welfare or unemployment benefits or rent an apartment or house. Since each child is assigned a social security number at birth, they are just as apt to be targeted.
If you start receiving calls from collection agencies, bills for products you never bought, financial offers, like personal loans or credit cards that would never be offered to a child, or tax returns that have been rejected, these should be more thoroughly investigated as they could be identity theft indicators.
Steps to Prevent Identity Theft
Below are ways to help minimize your child's identity from being compromised. Many of these tips can also be applied to safeguarding your personal information as well.
- Talk about identity theft with your family.
- Teach children not to post personal information on social media.
- Teach kids about phone and Internet scams.
- Let children know they should never give out personal information to anyone without your permission.
- Don't share your child's social security number with an unknown source.
- Question anyone who wants their SSN, including schools. Ask if there is another identifier that can be used instead.
- Keep all documents and important records safe and in a place where they cannot be stolen.
- Crosscut shred all documents before recycling or disposing of them.
- Find out who has access to your child's school records. Find out how records are kept and what the school does to safeguard the information.
- Understand the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
What To Do If Theft Occurs
- File a police report immediately and provide any evidence you have to authorities.
- With a copy of the police report, submit a written request to all three major credit bureaus for a copy of your child's credit report.
- Ask each credit bureau to remove all accounts, inquiries and collection notices from all files connected with your child's name and social security number.
- Contact all credit issuers or collection agencies on the credit report in writing to alert them to the fraudulent use of your child's identity.
- File a claim with the Federal Trade Commission.
- Keep copies of all written correspondence as well as written notes to track the progress.
Identity Theft Resources
- TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance Department
- Equifax Consumer Fraud Division
- Experian National Consumer Assistance Center
The Costa Group hopes this information will help protect you and your children from the nefarious acts of identity thieves!