How to Protect Kids from Identity Theft

1/27/2023 Marine Bank

Did you know your kids are at a higher risk of having their identity stolen than you? As a matter of fact, kids age seven or younger are at the highest risk. How can that be since children aren’t even allowed to apply for credit? That’s exactly why they are most appealing to cyber criminals.

A child’s identity is essentially a blank canvas for an identity thief to use as a clean slate and new financial beginning. Plus, let’s say someone steals the identity of a six year old child. Their identity can be used without much notice for 12 years because the child will not be to be applying for or using credit until they’re nearing 18 years old. That means an identity thief can wreak some serious damage on your child’s credit for quite a while without being noticed, if you’re not paying close attention.

Here are a few ways you can spot if your child’s identity may be stolen, as well as some ways you can keep your child’s identity safe from the hands of malicious cybercriminals. 

Signs your child’s identity has been compromised

If your child is summoned for jury duty, it might seem like a funny government error, but don’t be quick to brush it off. That’s an indicator that your child’s identity has been stolen. When someone starts meddling with your child’s identity there are a few strange things that might start happening. The moment you receive calls, letters or emails about credit, government assistance, traffic or legal violations, collection agencies, or job verifications in your child’s name, it’s time to begin looking deeper into why.

Here are a few scenarios where you may discover your child’s identity has been stolen:

  • When attempting to open a savings account or college fund for the child.
  • When numerous pre-approved credit card offers come in the name of the child.
  • When credit cards, checks, bills or bank statements are sent in the name of the child.
  • When collection agencies call or send letters about accounts not opened by the child.
  • When a teen is denied a driver’s license because another person has their Social Security Number as their ID.

How to keep your child’s identity safe

More times than not, the child is familiar with the perpetrator. The most common perpetrators are family friends but it’s not uncommon that spouses, a friend of the child, significant other of a teen or someone working in your home may steal your child’s identity as well.

Schools are particularly vulnerable to cybercriminals as they have hundreds or thousands of students in their system that hackers would love to get their hands on. Many schools have regulations in place to help prevent a breach from happening, but even in the recent past there have been issues.  

And lastly, the person putting your child at the most risk may be your child themselves. Kids have nearly unlimited access to the internet and may not understand the consequences of giving out their information. It’s more important that you, their guardian, teach them from a young age the dangers of giving out their information online.

Something else to consider is that just because the doctor’s office asks for your child’s social security number does not mean it’s required. Don’t give your child’s personal information easily. You may even want to make it a habit to always ask if the information is truly needed and why.

What to do if your child’s identity has been stolen

1. Freeze their credit by contacting Equifax, Experian and TransUnion

2. File an identity theft report

3. Keep an eye on things

Of course prevention is best, it’s important to be proactive in being alert and aware of the red flags that may arise if your child’s identity is stolen. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your child’s security.

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