Do you know how to protect your child from Identity Theft?

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You buckle them into car seats, make sure they wear a helmet when riding their bikes and keep a first-aid kit on hand at all times. As a parent, you do everything you can to guard your children’s physical safety, but do you know how to protect them from identity theft?



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How Common Is Child Identity Theft?

Over 15,000 of the identity theft complaints to the Federal Trade Commission in 2016 affected children and teens (anyone age 19 and under), which represents 4% of all identity theft complaints for the year. The Identity Theft Resource Center, which tracks identity theft and data breach statistics, also reports that 4.4% of the identity theft victim calls they received last year involved child identity theft.
Experian® handles 25,000-30,000 fraud cases each year and approximately 17% were targeted at children. According to Michael Bruemmer, Vice President of Consumer Protection for Experian, child identity fraud or theft will affect 25% of kids before turning 18.
Why Do Identity Thieves Target Kids?
Children can be seen as a treasure trove for identity thieves. Because they don’t pay bills, take out loans or hold credit cards, children’s credit histories are clean slates that identity thieves can exploit.
Identity thieves also know that parents and guardians often don’t think to monitor their children’s identities or credit files. Many parents don’t discover their children have been the victims of identity theft until the child has to use his or her Social Security number for the first time, such as on college financial aid applications, or when applying for a first summer job or credit card.
How Thieves Use Children’s Identities
Anything identity thieves can do with an adult’s personal identifying information, they can also do with a child’s information.
For example, they may open credit cards, mortgages, auto loans or other lines of credit in the child’s name. They may use the child’s information to open utility accounts or commit fraud on the government, tax, health or employment forms. Criminals may use a child’s identity to conceal their own in order to avoid arrest or prosecution.
Because child identity theft can go undetected for so long, it can be very difficult to clear up the problems it causes.
Protection and Prevention Tips
While identity thieves are creative and motivated, parents and guardians still can do a lot to reduce the risk of their child becoming a victim of identity theft.
• Protect your child’s Social Security number. Never share it with anyone who doesn’t have a very good reason for having it.Never carry your child’s Social Security card, just as you shouldn’t carry yours around. Memorize the number and keep the card stored in a secure place.
• Monitor your child’s personal information. Unrecognized activity involving your child’s email address, phone number, bank accounts or other personal information can be a signal that information has been compromised.
• Pay attention to privacy policies. Schools, clubs, dentists, doctor’s offices, sports teams, etc. virtually everyone has a privacy policy that details how your child’s private information will be used, handled and protected.
• Use your own information whenever possible. Parents often share information about their kids without thinking about it. Protect your child’s personal information by using your own instead, whenever possible.
• Avoid oversharing on social media. Social media has become a great way to keep far-off friends and family up to date on what your child is doing. But identity thieves also know social media can be a source of useful information.
• Monitor your child’s social media and online activity. It’s also important to closely monitor your child’s social media use to ensure you know who he or she is talking to and what they’re sharing online.
• Keep your home safe. A break-in could net burglars more than just your physical valuables if important documents like birth certificates and Social Security cards are unsecured in your home.
• Teach your children well. It’s important for kids to understand identity theft risks. Find age-appropriate ways to talk to children about the topic.
Child identity theft can be a scary crime for parents to face, but with some vigilance and preventive steps, it’s possible to reduce the risk your child will become a victim of identity thieves. For more information visit