What You Need to Know about Child Identity Theft

While many parents will get a Social Security Number for their child, it may be many years before the child uses their identification for financial purposes (e.g., opening a bank account). In the intervening time, the dormancy of children’s information makes kids an ideal target for identity thieves. The children’s underlying data is real, but there isn’t any competing activity that could interfere with the thieves’ use of the information. And theft of a child’s identity can have long-term effects years down the road, from interfering with the ability to obtain student loans to getting a job or an apartment.

So here are some things to be aware of regarding child identity theft.

What Thieves May Use the Data For

The Federal Trade Commission warns that identity thieves will use a child’s name, Social Security Number, date of birth, and home address. They may use this information to fraudulently apply for government benefits, credit cards, or loans. They might even rent an apartment and have their utilities under a child’s name.

What to Do to Protect Your Child

To protect your child from identity theft, be as protective of their information as you would be of your own. Secure documents. Shred papers that you no longer need. Delete data from old computers or phones you are retiring. Don’t give out your children’s Social Security number, even to a school, without first finding out why someone is asking for it and how they will protect children’s data.

Ask if you can use a different identifier or supply just the last four digits of the Social Security number.

And, just as you should check your credit report for errors, you should monitor their credit. There shouldn’t be a credit report until they have an account or record in their name.

Warning Signs to Look Out for

Be on the lookout for warning signs that identity thieves are already misusing your child’s data. For example, if your child starts receiving solicitations in the mail for credit cards or other financial services. Or when you create an account, you are told that one already exists. Another clue is if you are denied credit or harassed for unpaid debts you didn’t know you had.

If you do suspect that your child’s identity has been compromised by identity theft, contact an attorney who specializes in representing clients like you. A lawyer can not only help you repair your and your child’s credit record, but they can also help you obtain compensation for any damages you sustained.