While we all know how important it is to protect our
identities from theft, it often doesn’t occur to parents to take measures to
protect their child’s identity. Fraudsters can easily steal your child’s
identity without you realizing it until years later. The thieves use the
information the same way they would yours: to open fake accounts, credit cards
and loans. Another reason they target children is because they have a clean
slate. They can easily create a fake identity. To be honest, this wasn’t
something I thought about either until the Equifax data breach. I only realized
I needed to take care of my daughter’s identity after I spoke with River
Valley’s fraud expert about how to protect my own identity. Since then I have taken the necessary precautions to
help ensure my daughter’s identity is not compromised.
1. Prevention is key: Keep all your paper and electronic records with your child’s information in a secure and safe location, especially their Social Security card – do not carry this with you (or your own for that matter)! Do not share their Social Security number with anyone who doesn’t need it. Don’t be afraid to ask why they need it and how it is going to be protected. Shred any documentation with your child’s information before throwing it away. You can also freeze your child’s credit, but it isn’t easy.
2. Place a credit freeze: You can freeze your child’s credit at the three main credit bureaus. Each credit bureau requires documentation to be sent to freeze a child’s credit. They want to verify you are who you say you are. Items you may need would be: birth certificate, Social Security card, and a photocopy of your government-issued ID. You can find the requirements for each credit service here: , , .
3. Warning signs to look for: Learning the warning signs are equally as important as prevention. If your child’s identity has been compromised, you may start to receive bills or credit cards addressed to your child as well as credit offers. You may also start to receive collections calls or IRS notices. If you think your child’s identity has been stolen, you can check to see if they have a credit report at one of the three major credit reporting agencies.
4. How to repair your child’s credit: If you know your child’s identity has been stolen, report it to the FTC . They will create a personal recovery plan to help you regain your or your child’s identity. Make sure to alert the credit bureaus that your child has been a victim of identity theft and ask them to remove the fraudulent charges and place a freeze. It is also vital to contact the companies where the fraud occurred and explain the situation to them.
Pay attention to the personal information listed on forms. You should never be afraid to ask how your personal information or that of your child is going to be protected or how it is used. It is important to teach children about online safety as well especially if they have internet access. They may not realize the information they are sharing can be used to steal their identity. Always use caution when it comes to giving out sensitive information. If you suspect fraud, River Valley is always here to help the best we can.
To see more fraud tips, visit my blog at.