Knowing how to protect your kids from identity theft is crucial information to know to safeguard their futures. If their identities are stolen when they are children, it can cause them problems in the future when they apply for jobs, for college, or for credit; (an apartment, home or car.)
A child’s Social Security number can be used by identity thieves to apply for government benefits, open bank and credit card accounts, apply for a loan or utility service, or rent a place to live. Check for a credit report to see if your child’s information is being misused. If it is, visit IdentityTheft.gov to report and recover from identity theft.
If the child does have a poor credit rating due to stolen identity, it can take years to clear it up. It is likely that the first credit issued to the child will be at an extremely high-interest rate or that little credit will be offered.
Cyber thieves target children because their identities offer a clean slate with which to apply for bank accounts, credit cards or loans, government benefits and tax breaks. Criminals will often combine a child’s Social Security number with a fake date of birth and address to avoid suspicion, experts say.
While an adult may quickly learn that his or her identity has been stolen when he or she receives an exceptionally high credit card bill with unrecognized charges, the loss of a child’s identity may not be realized for many years, until the child is grown and just beginning to operate independently. When a child applies for college loans or scholarships, this may be the first time an identity theft problem is revealed.
There are several reasons child-identity theft may not be discovered for years.
Some data breaches do not necessarily have to do with financial records. For example, a digital toy company, where the child registers in order to have access to the learning games or digital information, could be breached. The effect is the same. The child’s data is now exposed for someone else to use.
It is really up to the parent/guardian to protect the child. There is no government agency that prevents the theft of child records. So what is a mother or father to do?
There are several things you can do to protect your child:
What else can you do to protect your child’s identity? Share your comments with us and give us your tips and stories -- we can learn from each other!
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