8 Ways to Prevent Child Identity Theft

If you’ve thought about your own identity being stolen but haven’t ever thought about child identity theft, it’s a surprisingly real phenomenon, because kids are blank credit slates. Identity thieves are always using web crawling software to locate information like birth dates, Social Security numbers, and names that are pieced together to create a brand new identity. Thieves covet social security numbers from our kids because they’re clean credit slates. They can spend years using a child’s identity to take out loans, open credit cards, etc. because the rightful owners won’t find out until they open their first credit card or take out college loans years later.

By then it’s too late and the damage has been done. Just as an adult’s credit can be a time consuming hassle to fix, the same amount of time and effort is spent repairing a child’s credit score. How do you keep your kids’ personal information safe to prevent their identity from being stolen?

  • 8 Ways to Prevent Your Child’s Identity From Being Stolen 1 of 9
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  • Start monitoring your child’s personal information 2 of 9
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    Stop and think about the kinds of information you're being asked to provide and who you're sharing it with. How secure are those paper files in your pediatrician's office? What happens to the forms you fill out for the school each year? Are documents kept securely or is there a chance that a nosy individual could farm information off of your paperwork for their own benefit? Just be mindful and remember to ask for clarification about sharing certain personal information.

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  • Explain identity theft to your child 3 of 9
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    Identity theft is a strange concept for kids to understand, but talking about it in an age-appropriate way can help develop awareness in the youngest ages. Kids should know it exists and the effect it could have on their future. Middle schoolers and high school students can better understand how identity theft can impact their futures, especially as they think ahead to purchasing a car, getting a loan to college, or renting their first apartment.

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  • Remind your child not to give personal information to anyone 4 of 9
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    Young kids like to share, and sometimes their lack of filter and friendliness can reveal too much. If a child shares their address and birthday, the only thing that a credit thief is missing is their Social Security number. Once they have the personal information trifecta, they can go ahead and form a fake identity with your child's information. Kids tend to not need to know their Social Security number until they reach the end of high school, but you should caution them to avoid revealing any personal information, especially online, in school, and on social networking sites.

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  • Take note of mail coming to your house in your child’s name 5 of 9
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    Is your child getting strange mail and prepaid credit offers in their name? If they're getting things like bills, DMV, or Internal Revenue Service correspondence, do a little digging. Contact the companies sending the offers to get them to take you off their list and also follow up with a credit dispute.

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  • Keep your child’s Social Security card in a safe place 6 of 9
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    Social Security cards don't belong in a purse or wallet. Why? What do you keep in your wallet? If yours contains your driver's license, credit cards, and cash along with your social security number, a thief will have your birthday, Social Security number, and address— the three required pieces of information to open a bank account and take out loans in your name.

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  • Only provide your child’s Social Security number when absolutely necessary 7 of 9
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    Since a Social Security number isn't something that should be routinely required, it's ok to leave it at home. Always question a business or individual's "need to know."

    If someone asks you for it, be sure to inquire why they need it and how it will be used before you provide it to them.

  • Occasionally check all three credit bureaus for a credit report under your child’s Social Security number 8 of 9
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    By doing a credit check, parents can see if their child's personal information is being exposed and to what degree. Routinely checking the three main credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — is smart, since anything fishy will turn up right away. Credit reports are free to run, so mark your calendar to check quarterly as a way to proactively monitor your family's credit. This helps catch the problem early on before it becomes a larger issue that is harder to fix.

  • Use an automated service to monitor your family’s credit 9 of 9
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    Take some of the pressure off of remembering by subscribing to a service that will help you monitor your family's credit. Each time there's activity that affects your credit, services like Identity Guard with kID Sure sends alerts to help parents stay on top of potential threats to each family member's credit. It's a small price to pay for peace of mind!

    Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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