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The Resource Center Child Identity Theft & Protection | article

Child Identity Theft Can Be a Mother’s Worst Nightmare

When you were growing up, Mom did everything she could to protect you from the dangers of the outside world while you were still a child so that you'd grow up to be the successful adult you are today. That is one of the many reasons why mothers get their own holiday, always on the second Sunday in May, so that you can let them know that their hard work is appreciated and that they did a good job.

However, there are some dangers out there that even moms who are extremely vigilant about shielding their children from harm can't prevent from happening. Child identity theft, for example, can take place without parents even noticing, and younger children are among the fastest-growing demographics affected by the crime.

Kids' identities are essentially blank slates for credit
Here's how it works: An identity thief will somehow get a hand on a piece of your child's personal identification information — usually a Social Security number — and then use it to open new accounts like credit cards, car loans or even home mortgages.

The younger the child, the longer a thief's opportunity may be to get away with the crime since the child isn't likely to apply for credit of their own at least until their late teens.

It takes years, in some cases, for identity theft to be discovered
Until a child has applied for a loan, credit card or any other kind of account, there is no credit report associated with their Social Security number, which basically makes their identity a blank slate. In many cases of child identity theft, the victim will unwittingly apply for something like a student loan then get denied because not only has a thief stolen their Social Security number, but it is now associated with a different identity and could be attached to a credit score that is less than ideal.

The Federal Trade Commission recommends that starting at the age of 16, all individuals should request a copy of all three of their credit reports — which may be requested annually for free — from each of the national credit reporting bureaus to look for signs of fraud. One way you can show mom she raised you right is by being responsible with your finances and getting the help you need to keep a watchful eye over your identity.