Anyone’s identity can be stolen, regardless of a person’s age, gender, or social status—and that’s why it is crucial to know how to protect children from identity theft. This unfortunate occurrence affects approximately 1.25 million children each year. Since the best way to protect children from identity theft is to understand better how it happens, here is a closer look into the specific types of identity theft that can impact children, and ways you can prevent these incidents now and in the future.
How Child Identity Theft Occurs
The unfortunate reality of child identity theft is that it can go unnoticed for years, especially without the proper means of protection. Even though a child isn’t opening a credit card in their name, their social security numbers are being used for a handful of records, including with schools, doctors, camps, and others. These records may be vulnerable. Thieves can also use more accessible information such as names, addresses, and dates of birth to do a number of nefarious actions, such as:
- opening a credit card or bank account
- applying for a loan
- renting a place to live
- signing up for utility services
- applying for government services like unemployment and welfare
Child or baby identity theft is such a problem because often, only a social security number is needed to undergo these detrimental actions. Since no regular child or teen is signing up for a loan, credit card, or unemployment benefits, it is even harder to identify these occurrences before it’s too late. When these issues happen for years, as many of them do, fixing the problem is an absolute hassle and can leave families heavily in debt.
Ways to Protect Children From Identity Theft
Below are some effective strategies and actions you can take to understand how to find out if someone is using your child’s social security number, as well as ways to prevent child identity theft from happening altogether:
- Consider a Credit Freeze – Since credit seems to correlate to a great number of baby identity theft cases, it’s a good idea to consider freezing a child’s credit. When you request a security freeze at each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax), the bureaus then create a credit report for your child and freeze it completely. This way, lenders who attempt to process an application with a child’s credentials will be denied access. This freeze can then be lifted by contacting each credit bureau when a child does come of age to apply for credit.
- Safeguard Social Security Numbers – Never provide your child’s social security number to anyone who doesn’t have a legitimate reason for having it. Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions, to understand not only why someone would need it, but how they plan on protecting it. Also, be sure to keep your child’s SSN card in a safe place, or memorize the number to avoid jeopardizing it.
- Educate Your Child on Proper Record Safety – If you give your child a cell phone or electronic device, it can help significantly to go over the safety tips they need to follow. This can include avoiding unknown caller IDs, being wary of spam or phishing, and using reliable passwords on any social accounts they may use.
- Monitor Your Child’s Personal Information (or Use Your Own) – Just as it’s essential to familiarize your child with how to protect their own records, you should also stay on top of monitoring their information. This includes looking for red flags, such as your child receiving mail for credit card offers, or unexpected activity in their emails or other accounts. It can also help to use your own information when signing up for certain accounts, such as your email for your child’s social media account.
- Utilize Identity Theft Protection Services – Many ID theft protection providers also include child identity theft in their offered services, and these can go a long way toward protecting your child’s information. Whether it’s an individual child plan, or a fully encompassing family plan, these services work to identify threats, alert you of anything suspicious, and provide means for recovery when fraudulent activities happen.
Keep My IDs
At KMID, we offer comprehensive protection from identity theft for not only adults but for children as well. We provide both individual and family plans to ensure that each member of your family has their personal information kept safe, and these plans feature the recovery tools you’ll need if your child becomes a victim. From continuous fraud alerts, free credit reports, spam reduction, and other key services, you and your children can stay safe from ID theft now and in the future.
Contact us today to learn more about our plans, or for any additional information.