Protecting your child from identity theft

Friday, June 16, 2017 at 8:55 AM by Maria Montie, CPA, MST, CVA, MAFF

identitytheftmainJust when you thought identity theft couldn’t get any worse, an emerging market for identity theft thieves is now children. This crime, unfortunately, has the ability to go undetected as young children likely won’t use their social security numbers for years.

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. Most victims do not even know about it until they are young adults and find their credit rating compromised, or are rejected for student loans, jobs or from renting a place to live.

Knowing the signs

Several signs can tip you off to the fact that someone is misusing your child’s personal information and committing fraud. For example, you or your child might:

  • Be turned down for government benefits because the benefits are being paid to another account using your child’s Social Security number
  • Get a notice from the IRS saying the child didn’t pay income taxes, or that the child’s Social Security number was used on another tax return
  • Get collection calls or bills for products or services you didn’t receive

Taking precaution

Many school forms require personal and, sometimes, sensitive information. Find out how your child’s information is collected, used, stored, and thrown away. Your child’s personal information is protected by law. Asking schools and other organizations to safeguard your child’s information can help minimize your child’s risk of identity theft.

When your child turns 16, it’s a good idea to check whether they have a credit report. If there is one — and it has errors due to fraud or misuse — you will have time to correct it before the child applies for a job, a loan for tuition or a car, or needs to rent an apartment.

For more information, visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0040-child-identity-theft

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