Identity theft can happen to anyone, even your child. We’ll tell you how to recognize fraud and what to do if it happens to you.
As with anything in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This means that, as a parent, it is up to you to protect your child’s personal information. Do not share your child’s Social Security number (SSN) with anyone you do not have to. Find out what methods of safeguarding this information the people or companies you do share this information with take, such as their preschool. It can be confusing to know when to share this information and when to reserve it, especially when it is asked for on so many forms. Don’t be afraid to ask if it is okay to leave this information off.
Be certain to store your child’s SS card in a safe location like a safety deposit box. When you receive copies of documents that contain the number, store them with the SS card or dispose of them properly. The same goes for any mail that contains personal information such as their first bank statements.
Unfortunately, even when you do everything in your power to prevent fraud, it can still occur. Here are some things to be on alert for:
- Unusual mail addressed to your child- identity thieves will often open accounts under your child’s name, and usually credit companies will want to also entice your child into opening up more accounts. If you start getting this type of mail, you may need to do a soft pull of your child’s credit.
- A credit report exists- Your child should have no credit report at all if they have no credit. Feel free to call the three major credit bureaus and inquire if your child has any credit reported. The answer should be no. If the answer is yes, you need to take action.
- Notices from the IRS- If someone uses your child’s information to obtain work, they are required to file taxes. Most thieves will not do this but will instead leave you with the bill.
- You start getting calls for services- From cable to phone services and even DTE, thieves will often use stolen personal information to open accounts for services in their name. Have these services turned off immediately and then look into any other items that may be on your child’s credit report.
- If you know that your child’s information has been compromised and need help navigating the steps to correct it, you may need to contact an attorney who specializes in identity theft.