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Protect Your Child from Identity Theft » Identity Theft Protection » Protect Your Child from Identity Theft



The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more than 720,000 reports of identity theft in the first two quarters of 2021. Of those reports, more than 15,000 concerned victims ages 19 and under. Even if you’re on top of taking precautions to keep your personally identifiable information safe, if you have minor children, your identity theft security measures may not stop with just yourself.

Identity thieves could steal your kids’ Social Security number, name and address or date of birth to apply for government benefits, such as health insurance or to open a bank account or credit card. Your child’s stolen identity could also be used to rent an apartment, sign up for utilities or apply for a loan.  All the while, you have no idea that your child’s stolen identity is being used to rack up large amounts of unpaid debt, resulting in a poor credit history.

So, when your kid grows up and starts out on their own, he or she already faces roadblocks to approval for loans, credit cards and renting a place to live. The good news is that you can take steps to protect your child’s identity and know how to spot warning signs that your child’s identity has been compromised.

Child identity theft facts

Why steal a child’s identity

It’s easy, and a clean credit history can be lucrative. Because the credit of a child may not be checked till they’re 18, thieves have a long time to open credit, buy homes and cars, or get a job.

Family members may be the culprits

A social security card is available to close family and can be tempting if they have a lot of debt.

A child’s identity may be compromised at school

Make sure social security numbers are required by law on any forms. School-identifying numbers should also be unique and not the SSID.

Theft may not be realized for years

SSID numbers may not be checked until a child applies for a driving permit or a job. Almost 15 years may have gone by with debt racking up. Creating poor credit when applying for student loans or auto loans.

Preventing child identity theft

Ask questions before providing your child’s Social Security number

The FTC recommends asking a few questions first if your kid’s school or another business or organization says it needs your child’s Social Security number for its records. Before simply handing over the number, which can be stolen for identity theft purposes, inquire further about why they need the Social Security number.

Also, ask how they will protect the number from being misused or stolen. Ask if the school can use a different identifier instead or just use the last four digits to identify your child.

Keep your child’s documents in a safe place

Store documents that contain your child’s personal information, such as their Social Security card or medical bills, in a secure place, such as a locked file cabinet. “When you decide to get rid of those documents, shred them before you throw them away. If you don’t have a shredder, look for a local shred day,” advises the FTC.

Delete personal information from devices

The FTC recommends deleting all personal information about your child – and also your own – from the hard drive on your computer, phone or tablet before disposing of devices. That way, the sensitive information can’t be used by an identity thief.

Before deleting, transfer the files to a new computer or save them to the cloud or an external storage device such as a USB flash drive. If saving to the cloud, make sure you find out the level of privacy and security offered.

Watch for warning signs

Keep an eye out for warning signs that your child’s personal information is being used by someone else. Warning signs  include:

  • You’re denied health care coverage, nutrition assistance or other government benefits because someone else is already receiving those benefits under your child’s name.
  • You receive collection calls for a bill under your child’s name for an account you didn’t open for the child.
  • The IRS sends a letter saying that your child owes income taxes. This may happen if someone used your child’s Social Security number on tax forms for a job.
  • You’re denied a student loan because of your child’s bad credit. This can happen when someone else opened a credit card, cell phone, utility or other account and then didn’t pay the bills.

Check for a credit report

Generally, a child under 16 won’t have a credit report – unless that child’s personal information is being used by someone else to commit identity theft fraud. The FTC recommends contacting the three major credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian and Equifax – and asking for a manual search for your child’s Social Security number to see if a credit report turns up. When you call, you may have to provide credentials such as your driver’s license or other government-issued I.D., proof of address, your child’s birth certificate and/or your child’s Social Security card.

When your child turns 16, also check for a credit report under his or her name. That way, you’ll have time to correct any identity theft fallout by the time they turn 18 and head to college or set out on their own.

In some states, the law allows you (parents, legal guardians, or other representatives of minors) to request the credit reporting agencies to freeze a child’s credit. These states are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

When you are the victim of family identity theft

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re in a difficult situation: you may be thousands of dollars in debt, and you’re still living with the person who put you there. This is a common situation, and it can be especially challenging when the person who has stolen your money is someone you love and trust. However, there are steps you can take to regain control of your finances and protect yourself from further family identity theft.

What is financial theft by a loved one?

Financial theft by a loved one refers to any unauthorized use of your money or property by someone you have a close relationship with, such as a parent, sibling, partner, or close friend. This type of theft can take many forms, including embezzlement, forgery, credit card fraud, and identity theft.

Why does financial theft by a loved one happen?

Financial theft by a loved one often happens because the thief has access to your finances and is in a position of trust. They may feel justified in taking your money because they believe they are entitled to it, or they may be struggling with their own financial issues. Whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that theft is never acceptable, no matter who the thief is.

How to identify financial theft by a loved one

It can be difficult to identify financial theft by a loved one, especially if you’re not paying close attention to your finances. However, there are some red flags you can look out for, such as:

  • Unexplained withdrawals or transfers from your bank accounts
  • Missing credit cards or checks
  • Unauthorized charges on your credit card statement
  • A decline in your credit score
  • Missing property or possessions

If you suspect that someone close to you is stealing from you, it’s important to act quickly to protect yourself and your finances.

What to do if you’re a victim of financial theft by a loved one

If you’re a victim of financial theft by a loved one, there are several steps you can take to regain control of your finances and protect yourself from further theft.

  1. Document everything: Keep detailed records of all transactions, including dates, amounts, and who was involved.
  2. Report the theft: Contact the police and file a report if you believe you have been the victim of theft. You may also need to contact your bank or credit card company.
  3. Get a restraining order: If the person who has stolen from you is still living with you, it may be necessary to get a restraining order to protect yourself.
  4. Change your passwords and account numbers: To prevent further theft, change the passwords and account numbers for all of your accounts.
  5. Seek support: Financial theft can be a traumatic experience, so it’s important to seek support from friends, family, or a professional therapist.

How to protect yourself from financial theft by a loved one

To protect yourself from financial theft by a loved one, it’s important to be proactive and take steps to secure your finances. Here are some tips:

  • Keep your finances separate: Don’t co-mingle your finances with those of the person who has stolen from you. Keep your money and property in your own name.
  • Monitor your accounts regularly: Check your bank and credit card statements regularly to ensure there are no unauthorized transactions.
  • Use strong passwords: Use strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts, and change them regularly.
  • Be cautious with joint accounts: Be cautious when opening joint accounts

Learn How To Hide Money »

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