Many parents assume that they only have to worry about their own identities and not that of their children as they plan ahead for the New Year. However, statistics show that almost every year the number of child identity theft cases that take place seem to increase markedly. However, fraud happens to people of all ages — and children are a prime target because of their credit history.
Thieves increasingly target the youngest family members
Just because your child may be too young to have their own credit card, or even accounts open in their own name, that doesn't mean they aren't vulnerable to identity theft. The fact that they technically have a blank credit history actually makes younger children more vulnerable to identity theft.
A Social Security number (SSN) has no name attached to it until it is used to open up a new account, like a line of credit. This means that if an identity thief steals a child's SSN, the credit reporting agencies won't already have that number on record. Because there was no prior record, the credit reporting companies have no reason to suspect that the person opening the account with that SSN is in fact committing fraud.
The thief may actually be someone you are related to
The statistic that may alarm most parents is the fact that most cases of child identity theft are committed by family members. Many times it is a relative who has fallen on hard times and uses the "blank slate" SSN of a younger family member to help pay a bill. There have even been cases where one parent will steal the SSN of a child without the other parent ever realizing the theft has occurred. These unfortunate instances have been known to tear families apart.
Don't overlook the threat of fraud and protect your child
Resolve to protect your children as well as yourself as you start the New Year. The Federal Trade Commission recommends that parents look into checking their children's credit reports as soon as they turn 16 years-old to see if anyone has been using their identity. You should also be sure to enroll your whole family in an identity and credit monitoring service, as this will help you stay alert to certain activity that may be a sign of identity fraud.