Many of us have heard the warnings about identity theft. But, did you know that your children can fall victim to identity theft too?
Recent statistics show that it happens. Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab found that 10.2 percent of 40,000 children involved in a 2011 study were victims of identity theft.
Childhood identity theft can have devastating long-term financial implications. It can affect a child’s ability to take out a student loan, receive a scholarship or get a credit card. Identity theft may even impact future job opportunities.
Child Identity Theft Warning Signs
How do you know if your child’s identity has been stolen? Be vigilant about protecting your child’s identity, and watch for the following red flags:
- Unsolicited credit card offers. Have you received one or more unsolicited credit card offers in your child’s name? Credit card offers are never intentionally sent to minors.
- Social Security account statement. These statements track annual contributions and anticipated benefits. Unless your child has a part-time job, an earnings statement in your child’s name is a clear indicator of fraud.
- A bill or a collection agency call for your child. Don’t dismiss this as a case of mistaken identity. A call from bill or collection agency can be a clear sign of identity fraud.
- The Internal Revenue Service contacts you about your child. If the IRS informs you that your toddler hasn’t paid his income taxes, this is a warning sign that someone may be masquerading as your son.
Tips for Preventing Child Identity Theft
Identity protection for your child starts with some privacy precautions. Here are some tips that may help reduce your child’s risk for identity theft:
- Be proactive. Start by checking with the fraud divisions of all three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Credit reporting agencies typically do not keep a report on file for minors. If there is a report, then there’s a good chance that your child’s identity is compromised.} And consider purchasing identity restoration coverage, which can help protect you and your family against identity theft and help repair any damage to your identity. Talk to an Allstate agent for more information.
- Be cautious when giving out your child’s Social Security number. If a school, youth sports team, or a medical office asks for your child’s Social Security number, know that it’s OK to question why they need it, what they will do with it and how they plan to keep it safe.
- Shred anything with your child’s personal information. Shred forms, documents and mail before disposal.
- Never carry your child’s Social Security card. To help reduce the risk for theft; leave you child’s card — and the cards of all the members of your family — in a safe place, like a safe at home or a safe deposit box.
What to Do If Your Child’s Identity is Stolen
If you find out that someone has stolen your child’s identity, there are some steps you can take to minimize the damage. If you discovered that a credit report (fraudulently) exists for your child, contact any one of the three major credit bureaus (that bureau is legally required to alert the other two) and ask them to put a “fraud alert” on the file. Report the identity theft to the FTC. Also, contact your local police department to file a report.
By taking a few simple proactive steps, and staying alert to early warning signs, you can minimize your child’s risk for identity theft or the impact it will have should it ever occur.
What concerns you most about someone’s stealing your child’s identity? Share your thoughts below.
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