Discovering that your identity has been compromised is scary and it can happen to anybody – including children.
According to the Better business Bureau, children are often easy targets because they typically do not start using their information until early adulthood, when applying for college, loans or their first credit card. Because of this, many individuals do not discover that they have been victimized until after they reach the age of 18.
The BBB encourages parents to take these steps to help guard against ID Theft:
- Safeguard your child’s personal information. Keep your child’s personal identifiable information – such as a Social Security card and birth certificate – in a safe place. Do not carry the child’s Social Security card in your wallet or purse, in case those items are lost or stolen.
- Monitor your child’s credit report. As soon as you get your child’s Social Security card, you should start monitoring his or her report. Request a free credit report from www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Keep anti-virus software updated. Some identity thieves create viruses designed to search computers for documents containing your child’s Social Security number. Try not to store important numbers or passwords in files or folders located on your computer.
- Safely dispose of personal documents. Shred all papers that include your child’s personal information before you throw them out, and delete computer files that you no longer need.
- Pay attention to forms from school. Look for terms like “personally identifiable information,” “directory information,” and “opt-out.” Find out how your child’s information will be used, whether it will be shared and if so, with whom.
What should you do if you suspect that your child is a victim of Identity Theft?
- Contact each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. Send a letter asking the companies to remove all accounts, inquires and collection notices associated with the child’s name or personal information. Also, explain that the child is a minor and include a copy of the Uniform Minor’s Status Declaration.
- Place a fraud alert. Ask the credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your child’s credit report.
- Contact businesses where the child’s information was misused. Alert them to what has happened as soon as possible.
- Create an Identity Theft Report. You can do this online at www.IdentityTheft.gov.