Protecting Your Children from ID Theft

 

If your child has a birth certificate and Social Security number, she could be the next victim of identity theft.

 

Your young child doesn't own a credit card (that you know of). He or she certainly doesn't drive. There is no identity to steal, right?

 

Not true. Even your adorable two-year-old with the runny nose has what a potential thief wants: an unblemished identity. All it takes is a Social Security number, and, in some cases, a birth certificate. It's so easy to steal a child's good name that an estimated 500,000 children are identity theft victims each year.

 

How ID is Stolen

Children are good targets for identity theft because their credit is probably not monitored at all. The crime may not be discovered until years later when the young adult can't get a credit card or driver's license, open a bank account, or apply for a college or car loan. What makes this problem even more tragic is that many identity thieves are the people who should be protecting children: parents, relatives, or family acquaintances. This may be especially true in cases of divorce.

 

How Thieves Use Your Child's ID

A perpetrator will steal a child's identity for a number of reasons; one of the most common is to establish new lines of credit. What's scary here, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, is that, especially with phone and Internet applications, the "credit issuers may not have a way to verify the age of the applicant."

 

A child's ID may also be stolen for criminal identity purposes, such as to apply for a driver's license or as an alias when a person faces arrest. A third purpose for child ID theft is "identity cloning," in which a child's identity is sold on the black market to the highest bidder.

 

How to Protect Your Child

Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect your children from identity theft:

 

  • Try to check your child's credit report yearly using www.annualcreditreport.com. Technically, your child shouldn't even have a credit report until he or she begins using credit as an adult. If a report is available, it could indicate ID theft.

 

  • Shred all documents with Social Security numbers or account information before disposing of them.

 

  • Be wary of people or places that ask for your child's birth certificate or Social Security number: coaches, doctor's offices, etc. Medical insurers should have changed to a system that uses assigned numbers rather than a Social Security number for the member ID.

 

  • Teach your child to never give out personal information over the phone.

 

  • Never divulge personal information about your child over the Internet unless you know it is safe to do so.

 

  • Encourage students to keep wallets and purses safe and to hide away personal information (even roommates or friends can be threats).

 

  • Don't keep your child's Social Security number in your wallet. Lock up your family's personal information, such as Social Security cards, passports, and birth certificates.

 

  • If you suspect that your minor child's information has been used fraudulently, you should contact the credit reporting agencies directly and also report the illegal use of your child's information to law enforcement. Be prepared to supply each credit-reporting agency with your child's complete name, address, date of birth and a copy of the minor child's birth certificate and Social Security card. You will also be asked to provide proof of your identity via a copy of your driver's license or other government-issued proof of your identity, which includes your current address, and a current utility bill containing your current address.

 

 

Note: Reference to commercial products, services, or trade names within information provided by Georgia Power Northwest Federal Credit Union does not constitute an endorsement by Georgia Power Northwest Federal Credit Union and does not imply discrimination against similar products or services.

 

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