You may be concerned about having your own identity stolen, but did you realize that your child’s identity may also be at risk? Most families order their children’s social security cards and then don’t think at all about it again. Once your child has a social security number, he or she is at risk for identity theft – even as a baby.
Surveys have shown that 10 percent of children enrolled in an identity protection service had loans and other bills associated with their social security number, according to a Statement of the Federal Trade Commission to the Subcommittee on Social Security of the Committee on Ways and Means, United States House of Representatives. Identity thieves often find Social Security Numbers of children from records in medical offices and schools. Because parents aren’t generally actively using the SSN or the credit history, it’s easy for an identity thief to be undiscovered for a long time. These SSNs are also appealing because they generally have no credit history or name and birthday associated with them. They are essentially blank slates.
So, how can you protect your child’s identity? Here are a few steps:
- Once you receive your child’s social security card, store it in a safe, secure place.
- Do not give your child’s social security number out unless you absolutely have to. You may be asked for your child’s social security numbers at the doctor’s office so for some kids’ activities. Push back to see if it’s absolutely necessary.
- Consider a credit monitoring service, which can look to see if there is an abnormal activity on your child’s account. These service will alert you if new accounts appear on your child’s credit report.
- Look for red flags that your child’s identity has been stolen. For example, if your child starts receiving mailed credit card solicitations, there’s a good chance his identity has been stolen.
If you suspect that your child’s identity has been stolen, pull credit reports to see what type of fraudulent activity has occurred. You should contact each creditor individually, as well as each of the three credit reporting bureaus. They will place a fraud alert on the account, which will stop any additional fraud from occurring. You can also file a police report. The worse thing you can do is nothing—theft of your child’s identity will only get worse, not better, and can make it difficult for your child to get a credit card or loan when they get older.