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Is Your Child A Target For Identity Theft?

Jan 30, 2008
Identity theft is getting a lot of press these days but one of the fastest growing demographics of victims is hardly ever mentioned - children. Children are even more vulnerable because they receive a social security number but few families ever check their kids' credit reports. They just assume there's nothing to monitor. Problems can show up years later, however, when the child is grown up and applies for a credit card or a car loan. The problems show up and the application is declined. And at this point, the work necessary to clear the credit fraud is difficult.

How Child Identity Theft Occurs

Every child born in America is issued a social security number, which the parent often has to obtain for health insurance and tax purposes. In the course of taking the child to the doctor, registering for school, signing up for sports, and filing taxes, the child's social security number is spread out all over the place. While the government is busy making changes to protect adults from identity theft, a child's social security number is still the number one form of identification at school and at medical offices. This makes every child a target for identity theft.

Furthermore, few parents even think about checking their child's credit report since the child isn't using any credit until they are about eighteen years old. Even adults who recognize the importance of monitoring their own credit history, and do so faithfully, ignore the need to keep tabs on their children's credit reports. Meanwhile the government urges individuals to monitor their own credit without mentioning that they should do the same for their children under 18. Most disturbingly is that the websites set up to provide free annual credit reports do not allow you to view your children's records. You must send a letter through the mail in order to gain access to this information.

When Child Identity Theft Happens

Often the child does not realize that they have been a victim of identity theft until many years after the fact. This poses a couple of problems for the new adult in regards to clearing their credit history. Thieves who commit identity theft against children open new accounts and take out loans in the name of the child. Statistics show that it is often much more difficult to clear up accounts that were opened new as compared to existing accounts with fraudulent charges made on them. Secondly, the accounts are frequently many years old and deep into collections by the time the individual becomes aware of the child identity theft. Even if the accounts are paid off after going to collections, the black mark remains from the original lender for many years.

Protecting Your Child From Identity Fraud

The best protection for your children from identity theft is to check their credit report every year. It's also wise to stop giving out your child's social security number except when you absolutely have to. The IRS and sometimes your doctor have the right to know it, but nobody else has to. And never carry your kids' social security cards with you. Memorize the number and lock the cards away at home or in a safety depost box.
About the Author
Do you know identity theft can happen through your computer? If you're not running the right kind of pc security, your private information can be stolen. Find out how to protect yourself at the Security Manor website.
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