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How Safe is Your Child’s Identity?

In this day and age everyone has been taught at least a few ways to protect their identities against theft. But what about your children’s identities? Social security numbers are issued at birth and since kids usually don’t use them until they are older, they are a prime target for identity theft.

According to the Federal Trade Commission ten million people each year are victims of identity theft and the number of victims that are minors is growing at an alarming rate. Imagine your teenager getting ready for college and applying for a student loan only to be turned down because they have a foreclosure on their credit report from when they were two years old! As ridiculous as it sounds, it happens all too often.

While adults have some specific things they can do to protect themselves, such as putting a “freeze” on their credit reports, children do not have these options. In order to freeze a credit file you must first have a credit file and since children don’t have credit they have no files to freeze. If a child does have a credit file then chances are they have already been a victim of identity theft.

While the credit bureaus are aware of the vulnerability of children’s identity information, it may be some time before there is a real solution to this problem. In the meantime it is just as important to do what you can to protect your child’s identity as it is your own. Educate your children and monitor their activities. In the long run you can save both you and your child a lot of heartache, money and time by being more vigilant about protecting their information as well as yours.

Here are some proactive steps to take to help protect your child’s identity:

  • Ensure your child has no credit file with the three bureaus (instructions on this below)
  • Lock up their social security card. Do not let them carry it with them.
  • Monitor their internet activity. Make sure they are not disclosing too much personal information on social networking sites.
  • If you allow your child to purchase anything online using your credit card make sure the website is secure and monitor the transaction.
  • Make sure they know to never give their social security number to anyone over the phone or internet.
  • When your child becomes 15 add them as an authorized user to one of your credit cards. This will create a credit file for them and make it easier to check their credit on a regular basis through www.annualcreditreport.com.
  • Sign up for Experian’s credit monitoring service at www.familysecure.com. This will let you know if someone has tried to use your child’s information when applying for credit even if they do not have a credit file.

Worried that your child may already be a victim of identity theft? Here are some things to watch for that can be indicators:

  • If your child receives any pre-approved credit card offers in the mail.
  • If your child starts receiving phone calls from collection agencies.
  • You try to open a financial account for your child such as a savings account and one already exists.
  • You try to open a savings account for your child and they are denied due to a poor credit history.
  • Your child receives an “earnings statement” from the IRS.

Each credit bureau has specific requirements for requesting information about a child’s credit report.

For Equifax your must send:

  • A copy of the child’s birth certificate
  • A copy of the child’s Social Security card or a document from the Social Security Administration that shows the child’s Social Security number.
  • A copy of your driver’s license or state issued id (must show proof of current address)
  • A letter requesting they search for a file for the child.
  • Mail to:

Equifax Information Services LLC – Minor Child
PO Box 105139
Atlanta, GA 30348-5139

For Experian you must send:

  • The form provided by Experian at https://www.experian.com/fraud/form-minor-child.html
  • A copy of your drivers license or other government issued ID.
  • Proof of your address, such as a copy of a bank statement, utility bill or insurance statement.
  • A copy of your child’s birth certificate.
  • A copy of your child’s Social Security card.
  • Your child’s full name, including middle initial and any generation (JR, SR, II, etc)
  • Your child’s date of birth.
  • Any previous addresses for the last two years.
  • Mail this along with the form to:

Experian
PO Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013

For Trans Union:

Fill out the Child Identity Theft Inquiry form at https://www.transunion.com/credit-disputes/child-identity-theft-inquiry-form and submit it online.

  • You can also email Trans Union at childidtheft@transunion.com
  • If you choose to email them you must include all information regarding the child, i.e. full name, social security number, Date of Birth and current address.
  • Trans Union will do a search and will notify you by email of the results.
  • If they find anything they will then request you send them additional documentation and information regarding your child.

 

While there is not way to absolutely ensure your child will fall victim to identity theft at some point, these are at least steps a parent can take to possibly deter this from happening.

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