Identity theft, including child ID fraud, is on the rise. In fact, nearly nine million people become the victims of identity fraud each year and that number is quickly rising. Child ID fraud is especially desirable as it may be years before you become aware that your child's identification information has been stolen.
Signs Your Child's Identity has been Stolen
This type of fraud can be especially devastating as it can have serious implications for your child's financial future. In fact, with the right information, thieves can gain access to medical care, government benefits, as well as a home or auto loan - all in your child's name. This can make it difficult for your child to get a job, rent an apartment, or secure a loan to pay for college.
So how do you know if your child's identity has been stolen? Well, there are a few signs to watch for. These include:
- Collection agencies calling regarding debt in your child's name;
- Mail in your child's name for products and services they didn't purchase;
- Your child receives notification of unpaid taxes associated with his or her social security number;
- Your child is denied government assistance because the social security number is already being used by someone else
How to Protect Your Child against Identity Fraud
It's best to take the steps necessary to protect against child ID fraud from occurring in the first place. But what do you do? How do you protect your child's sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands? After all, it's not uncommon for your child's doctor's office and school to ask for your child's full name, address, and social security number.
One of the most important steps you can take in protecting your child against fraud is to be extra cautious. Before you share his or her social security number with anyone, ask these questions:
- Who will have access to information?
- How will the information be used?
- What security measures are in place to protect against fraudulent use of your child's identity?
- Can another piece of information be used instead?
- Would the last four digits of the social security number be sufficient?
In addition, keep your child's birth certificate, social security number, and other personal documents in a safe. Always shred anything containing sensitive information before you throw it away.
When to Run Your Child's Credit Report
Some people suggest running your child's credit report. You can run a report with the name and social security number of your child; however, if nothing shows up, you may also want to run a manual credit report which looks for information connected to your child's social security number.
If something does show up on the credit report, you'll need to contact the three credit bureaus. To rectify the situation, begin by explaining that the charges in your child's name or related to his or her social security number are the result of child ID fraud.