Is Your Child's Identity at Risk?
Protect Your Child
Identity theft is still on the rise, but the ones who are attacked 51% of the time are not the ones we personally monitor. Our little ones, the ones in diapers or just learning to walk are under attack. Although we may keep tabs on our accounts activities, making sure that all activity belongs to us, our kids are left out. And why shouldn't they be, they don't work. We would never think to look towards our infants, toddlers or preschoolers.
- Did you know that children are more likely to have their identities stolen than adults ?
Our kids come into the world with a birth certificate with a social security number that is sure to follow. They have no income or work history because they are kids. This is the main reason why thieves attack them first. It could be years before you find out about it. By the time that the realization of your child's stolen identity is recognized it could be years gone by and the thief long gone.
- Did you know that identity theft amongst kids under five years of age has doubled from previous years ?
Their identity is used for more than credit cards. With just your child's name and address alone a thief can start his scan or get a fake ID. Your child could have bills piling up for utilities, insurance, doctor bills as well as other big expenses. Someone could be working right now under your five year old's name.
10 Year Victim of Identity Theft
After we have raised our children from the diapers we prepare them for preschool, grooming their education. A lot of us may start off with Dr Seuss books, computer learning games or head-start programs.... We go to PTA meetings, talk to teachers in elementary school, push them through Jr high school until they finally become seniors on that long awaited rode of graduation. That is when it happens; you find out that your child has had a secret life that you or your child has no knowledge of.
Your child has graduated and your chest is sticking out in pride. You have accomplished much, you have groomed your child well and now he or she is ready to take that next step "college". You begin by filling out the paper work for loans, grants, scholarships. Only to be turned down and school delayed because of unpaid bills and poor credit. It could take a year or longer to get things back in order. In the meantime your child is stuck at home anticipating a gloomy future while their friends move forward; or you have to get a second or third job to invest in your child's future.
The worst case scenario is for your child's reputation to be destroyed. Someone could be sitting in prison with your child's name and social security number under a rape or murder charge.
What Can We Do
According to Parent and Child magazine there are a few things that we can do to help protect our children.
- Dumpster diving, (although not as popular these days because of technology) just an envelope that you have thrown away with your child's name and address on it is enough to start thieves scanning.
- Update your computer virus protection, this one step can cut the risk of identity theft in half.
- Use safe passwords, include a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
- Important papers should be under lock and key and not openly exposed. Keep copies of the originals on a flash-drive or other device; then keep that in a safe place.
- Paper shredders are still a wise investment. Be sure to shred anything with your child's birth date, social security number or other important information on it.
- Question the need for your child's social security number. Unless it is tax forms or health insurance, a lot of times it's optional or not necessary. Federal law makes it easy to opt out of data gathering by schools or other programs without penalizing your kid.
- Child Scan, AllClear ID offers a free one time scan for minors. It not only covers credit reports but criminal background checks as well. One thing that you do not want your five year old child to have is an arrest record. Equifax is considered to be one of the best because most scans look for exact name, address and social security numbers. If one element is off the report will read that nothing has been found.ID thieves know what to change in your information that they use, that's how they stay in business for so long. Equifax knows this and covers all areas.
If you see any of these signs, your child's identity may or probably has been stolen.
- A lot of junk mail in your child's name.
- Credit card offers or bills addressed to your child.
- Calls from collection agencies asking for your child.
- IRS tells you that they have a file under your child's social security number that you did not create.
If you believe that your child's information has been compromised there are several things that you can do.
- Call the police to file a report.
- Contact credit bureaus.
- Contact banks and stores where the fraudulent charges have been made.
- Find out your rights involving the identity theft.
- For me, I would rather bring the professionals in. It may cost but I find it to be the most stress free way to go.
Resource: Parent and Child Magazine, December/January 2014 issue, page 54
Photo source: pictures.com