A few years ago, it might have seemed unthinkable that a child could have their identity stolen and used by criminals. Nowadays though, minors are indeed having their identities assumed by criminals albeit infrequently. A parent might never find out about this until their child discovers the issue first when he or she turns 18 years-old and tries to do something involving credit history. Obviously, this problem is growing at a steady pace and isn’t something that should be taken lightly. Here is how parents can combat identity theft against their children.
Why target children?
First and foremost, children have social security numbers that have absolutely no credit to begin with, which is often considered a good thing. A person who steals that social security number can easily open up fraudulent accounts and use them for years without anyone realizing it. In reality, your child wouldn’t find out about the theft until they turn eighteen or until they decided to apply for a credit card. A child’s social security number is easy to target because it’s less likely to raise alarm bells with anyone for various reasons.
The Other Type of Theft
On a quick side note, one other form of identity theft against minors involves simply using a social security number to obtain employment or citizenship. This won’t show up on credit reports, so it’s hard to tell if it’s going on.
Child Identity Theft Hints
Fortunately, there are a few subtle signs that may pop up that indicate that your child has been a victim of identity theft. Many of these indicators are easy to recognize because they seem out of the ordinary under any circumstances. The following items might reveal a possible case of identity theft:
– Your minor child receives credit card offers in the mail.
– You have an issue trying to open a bank account for your child.
– There are extra security questions for bank accounts or school applications.
– Collection agencies call for debts in the name of your child.
Getting a Concrete Answer
Technically speaking, you can order a credit report for your child if you suspect identity theft. However, you cannot just use the Internet to obtain these reports. You must call each credit bureau and speak to someone about the minor’s credit report. More than likely, you will be required to send in various forms of identification and other documents to show that you are the parent or legal guardian of the child in question. Afterward, you will be sent a credit report through the mail if one exists. The hope is that your child doesn’t have a report to look at, but that doesn’t guarantee your child isn’t a victim.
Finding a Solution
Luckily, these problems can be dealt with if caught early. You can work with the credit bureaus and the government to get the problems resolved. There are various solutions to a case of child identity theft, but I won’t go into detail about them here. Typically, these problems take some time to get resolved, so parents should start as soon as an issue is discovered.
It’s not a widespread issue, so don’t treat it like one.
In reality, this issue has been identified in a few thousand cases in recent years, so it isn’t microscopic. To deal with this possibility, parents should get a credit report on their child when he or she turns 16. You shouldn’t get regular credit reports before or after that point in time without any evidence of an identity theft issue though because that can adversely affect your child’s credit history. With that in mind, you should just know how to recognize the signs of I.D. theft involving minors.
For more information, visit Identity Theft and Children.