How To Protect Your Kids From Identity Theft
Child identity theft has been around longer than you think, but it’s more advanced now with the development of technology, and parents may not even know enough to be concerned about it. After all, the child doesn’t work, he hasn’t built assets or gotten credit cards. What could possibly go wrong?
Luckily, our friends at Allstate recently shined some light on the practice of stealing a child’s identity and what you should be doing to prevent it. Here are some of the highlights:
Know The Warning Signs
When your child doesn’t work and his biggest concern in the world are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you don’t think about there being actual warning signs until it’s too late. To head this attack off at the pass, be on the lookout for unsolicited credit card offers in the child’s name. Also, getting a Social Security account statement on the child is an instant red flag because these statements track annual contributions and expected benefits. Unless you’re child is working, he should never get an earnings statement.
Finally, be on the lookout for a bill, a contact from a collection agency, or an effort by the IRS to collect unpaid taxes.
Once you’ve got the warning signs down, it’s time to start thinking about how to prevent it. For that, Allstate offers the following tips:
In all, there are three credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Check with all three divisions to see if any credit reports exist for your minor child. “Credit reporting agencies typically do not keep a report on file for minors,” Allstate says. “If there is a report, then there’s a good chance that your child’s identity is compromised. And consider purchasing identity restoration coverage, which can help protect you and your family against identity theft and help repair any damage to your identity.”
Don’t Give Your Child’s SS# To Just Anyone.
First of all, be very limited in how you share this information and whom you share it with. From there, if a sports team, medical office, or school contacts you needing the number, ask them why and what they plan on doing to keep the information safe. This tip highlights an important point about child identity theft. Every time you give the info out, you could be increasing the risk that your child falls victim. Be protective.
Shred, Shred, Shred.
Just as you would for your own personal data, Allstate urges you to shred anything with your child’s personal information on it.
Don’t Carry The Child’s SS Card (Or Yours Either, For That Matter).
Losing your Social Security card and having it fall into the wrong hands, basically gives an identity thief the keys to the kingdom. Same is true for your child. Keep these in a safe deposit box or in a fire safe at your house.
What Happens If Your Child’s Identity Is Stolen?
Even the best preventative actions can break down, so you should have a plan of attack should your child’s identity become compromised. Allstate recommends contacting credit agencies about fraudulent reports. All you need to do is call one, and they’re legally obligated to share that info with the other two. Make sure you ask them to put a “fraud alert” on file, and then report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). It would also be a good idea to contact the police and file a report. It’s possible the identity thief will try to conduct some brick-and-mortar business using the data. If that happens, it’s likely his or her location can be pinpointed quickly.
Always be vigilant when it comes to fighting identity theft, and remember that if it’s difficult for you to deal with, your child is at the mercy of an identity thief. They need you to fight for them. Use the above tips to do just that.