We often hear new stories about someone becoming a victim of identity theft and the importance of keeping vigilant against this terrible crime. To prevent us from having our identify stolen, credit reporting agencies suggest checking your credit report often to monitor any changes in your credit activity. Companies offer shredding services to help keep our private information secure and out of the wrong hands. Online banking websites protect financial information through secure websites. All of these tools are available to make us feel more secure about the privacy of our personal information. But has anyone been protecting the personal information of our children?
Children are at equal risk of having their identities stolen and their personal information used fraudulently. Child identify theft has become a growing problem that has failed to become a major concern of the public for several years. Because children do not have any credit history, it makes them an easy target for thieves to use their personal information without notice. Parents never consider the possibility that someone has stolen their child’s personal information and opened accounts, taken out loans or used their social security number on a job application.
Prevent Child Identity Theft
It is important that you treat your child’s personal information as your own. Monitor their credit reports, regularly check for any activity on credit statements and shred documents that contain their personal information. One way parents can prevent child identity theft is by placing a freeze on their credit report, which can be lifted once they turn 18. “A credit freeze is a function that you can do with credit reporting agencies where they cannot give access to potential lenders to look at your credit reports,” says Nicole Caldwell, Vice President of Consumer Credit Counseling Service.
If you find that your child’s identity has been stolen, file a police report right away. Notify your credit reporting agencies and begin the process to dispute the charges. Contact any creditors that are listed on the credit report and inform them of the theft, as well as the actions you are taking to dispute the charges. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission to assist in the identity recovery process. For more helpful information about how to handle identity theft, visit the Federal Trade Commission website.