Did you know that identity theft can happen to your child? According to the FTC, a minor’s identity is also at risk for thieves. In fact, a child’s identity is appealing, since it is less likely that anyone is actively monitoring their identity or credit report.
So, What Can You Do?
The best way to check for this is by obtaining a credit report to review any fraudulent activity. When you contact each credit bureau, you will need to ask that they search your child’s file. You may be asked to provide documents related to your child’s identity. Requested documentation may include a birth certificate, Social Security card, parent government-issued identification, and proof of address.
- Suspicious Mail – Are you receiving bills, debt collection notices, or pre-approved credit card offers addressed to your child? If so, you should be alarmed.
- Turned Down For Benefits – Were you told that benefits are already being paid? You will need to contact the appropriate agency to report the fraud.
- Collection Calls – If someone is calling to collect money from your child, this is a red flag.
- Problems Obtaining Driver’s License – Sometimes identity thieves will use a child’s identity to get a driver’s license. When your child is old enough to apply for a license, they will be denied if someone has already applied and received one in their name.
- Contact Creditors: First, reach out to the creditor who sent you the bill and explain that your child is a minor and did not incur the debt. Next, ask them to close the fraudulent account. Be sure to have them send you a letter confirming that your child is not liable for the debt. You may be asked to send a letter with your child’s birth certificate confirming that your child is unable to enter into contracts at this age.
- Contact Credit Bureaus: You need to let the bureaus know of the fraudulent accounts under your child’s name. Explain that your child is a minor and cannot enter into contracts. Be sure to include your child’s birth certificate with the letter.
- Consider Placing a Freeze on Child’s Credit: Placing a credit freeze will make it much harder for thieves to use your child’s credit file. Be sure to unfreeze the account when your child is ready to begin building credit.
- Report Theft to FTC: Contact the FTC at IdentityTheft.gov.
- Recheck your child’s credit around age 16 for incorrect information.
Tips on Fraud Prevention
- Keep your child’s information safe and secure. Much like your own personal information, do not share your child’s social security number or other personal details with someone you do not know. Also, avoid using that information through email or text communications.
- Shred all communications with personal details before throwing them away for added protection.
- Contact your child’s school to see how their personal information is managed and discarded. You will also want to be sure that you read all communications from your child’s school. Monitoring communications from your child’s school will also help you ensure that all records are correct and that you approve of how that information is disclosed. Opt out of anything that will use your child’s information in a way that you feel is unnecessary or unsafe. In fact, you have the right to request information about programs that take place in the school and how they use student information.
- Contact the appropriate authorities if you have been robbed or any personal information for your child has been taken or affected by a data breach.
- Ready to open a bank account in your child’s name? If so, be sure to have the bank remove your child’s information from marketing lists.
- Equifax: (800) 685-1111
- Experian: (888) 397-3742
- TransUnion: (888) 909-8872
- School Data Breach: File a written complaint with the U.S. Department of Education by contacting the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, and be sure to keep copies for your own records.
Need More Information?
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