Child ID theft is a growing problem that can cause major issues when the child gets into their teenage years and decides to apply for a job or college financial aid. Only then will they have discovered their credit has been destroyed by identity theft which may have occurred years in the past. Children are an easy target for id thieves mainly due to their perfect credit record, and the fact that parents don’t regularly check their kids credit reports, so the crimes can go on for years before being detected.
Adults have the luxury of freezing their credit to protect against id theft, however this has only recently become an option for parents who want to safeguard their child’s credit. In some states, the credit bureaus will still not allow a credit freeze to be placed on a the credit report of a child under the age of 18, but some states are trying to get this fixed.
In December, the state of Wisconsin signed the Child Credit Protection Act. This makes it possible for parents to put a credit freeze on their children’s credit or other family members who may be susceptible to identity theft, such family members who have mental conditions. Other states have also begun to allow parents to enable credit freezes for their children, but they warn that this may only be effective if the children already have a credit report.
The credit reporting agency TransUnion has partnered up with the state of Utah, allowing parents to place their children’s social security numbers into the TransUnion database for fraud alerts. If, at any time, there is a credit report request for the social security number of the minor, the creditor will be alerted of potential fraud.
If you live in a state that has not yet begun to allow you to freeze your kids credit and you think it should, it would be a good idea to contact your state lawmakers and encourage them to pass similar laws as have Utah, Maryland and Wisconsin. Until that happens, the FTC has tips to help you safeguard the identities of your children and protect against identity theft.
- Never give anyone the personal information of your children unless you know for certain that they are legitimate. Check with your kids schools about their methods of protecting their files from data breaches. Keep your child’s social security number in a safe place at home. Never carry it around on your person.
- You should be checking your credit report at least twice a year, if not more frequently. When you do, check your child’s credit report with all three bureaus as well. If you notice anything that looks like fraud, you will have time to take the necessary steps to minimize the damage done by the id theft.