If you’ve ever been a victim of identity theft, you know how much of a pain it can be to fix. The longer it goes on, the harder it is to unwind all the problems a thief has created.
It’s probably why you monitor your credit report every few months.
But if you have kids, you might not think to monitor their credit reports too. It seems silly, since they should have no credit, but child identity theft is a huge problem. It’s reported that 5% of the identity theft complaints to the Federal Trade Commission were from minors under the age of 18. It’s becoming a go-to for identity thieves because parents don’t think to check their kids’ credit reports on a regular basis.
Many people discover identity theft because they apply for something, like a credit card or a loan, and discover something is amiss. Maybe it’s a recent credit card application they don’t remember or a missed bill they don’t have. Kids don’t apply for loans or credit cards. In fact, they’re underage, so they can’t even apply for those things because minors can’t enter into contracts (you would have to co-sign!).
This is why thieves are turning towards kids. It’s an easy target.
Since your child won’t be applying for anything, most warning signs will come from the government. If your child should receive government benefits of some kind but the agency reports that the benefits have already been paid, someone might be stealing your childs’ checks. That’s a subtle warning sign that something bad is happening.
Some other more obvious ones are if your child starts getting collections notices or you are told his or her Social Security Number is being claimed on another return. Anything out of the ordinary should be grounds for investigaion.
How can you prevent child identity theft?
Remember to check their credit reports.
It really is as simple as that. Contact Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion and request a credit report for your child’s name and Social Security Number. You’ll have to prove you are their parent or guardian, so be ready to provide your child’s birth certificate, Social Security card, your ID card, and proof of address.
Once you get the report, review it as you would your own. It should be pretty simple and straightforward but you never know if you’re (or rather your child) a victim until you get the report.
Good luck and remember to review this as often as you review your own.
Some preventative steps can save you serious time should you become victim.