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The Resource Center Child Identity Theft & Protection | article

Child Identity Theft Increasingly Common

It's almost never a good idea to share your personal information, such as your Social Security number (SSN), with second parties. Unless you are dealing with a trusted lawyer or accountant, you always want to keep this information under wraps, as it is the key to your identity.

Although this is a challenge for adults, children often have absolutely no say in how their SSNs are used and who has access to them. Younger children especially have this problem, as it is typically left up to their parents to conceal their personal information and make sure it doesn't fall into the hands of an identity thief. However, in many cases, the person who is committing child identity theft is actually a member of the family. According to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) statistics, the majority of thefts are committed by relatives or individuals who are close to the victim's family. Additionally, children under the age of 18 are the fastest growing demographic for this kind of crime.

Many times, a child is well acquainted with his or her thief
In a lot of cases, the fraud is committed by a family member who didn't intend to ruin a child's credit score before they even had a chance to take out a loan of their own. Usually, this relative will use the child's clean credit history to take out loans or open up new lines of credit because they had destroyed their own credit reports.

Bad habits die hard
However, things tend to take a turn for the worst when the habits that had initially ruined the thieves' own credit  end up damaging the scores of their victims.

So what can parents do to help keep your children's information more secure? For starters, they should be keeping their children's SSNs in a safe place, preferably under lock and key, where guests in the house can't gain access to them. Additionally, parents should do all they can to resist using their child's SSN as their own. Moreover, parents should be questioning their kids' soccer or baseball coach about why he/she needs that kind for information, and also asking their doctor how their medical records are stored and who has access to them.

Finally, individuals should look into reviewing their own credit before resorting to opening new loans in a child's name. This way, young members of the family are less likely to encounter problems taking out loans or opening up accounts in their own names when they grow up.