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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:
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