NPR recently published an article that should alarm many parents. According to the article, which uses sources from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), children are increasingly becoming victims of identity theft. Identity thieves are stealing the Social Security numbers of children because the theft will likely go undetected. When affected children try to open lines of credit or apply to jobs years later, they may discover that their information was stolen.
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to reduce the chances of your child becoming an identity theft victim. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends taking the following steps to prevent identity theft:
- Learn how to limit the risks: You could keep all electronic and paper records in a safe location. The FTC has detailed information on how you can keep your child’s information secure. If your child is enrolled in school, you could verify that his or her records are being kept in a safe location. You could become familiar with the protections granted to you by the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act if your child attends a school that receives funding from an applicable Department of Education program.
- Knowing the signs of identity theft: There might be warning signs of identity theft. For example, you may receive bills or collection notices for services or products that you never received. In addition, you could receive notices from the IRS that your child did not pay taxes or that his or her Social Security number appeared on a tax return. The FTC recommends checking to see if a credit report has been opened in your child’s name once they turn 16.
- Learn how to respond to identity theft: If you become aware of identity theft, the FTC recommends taking several steps. You could issue a fraud alert by with the FTC. In addition, you could notify the three credit bureaus to remove the collection notices, inquiries and other negative accounts. The FTC also recommends asking the businesses where the theft occurred to close any accounts open in your child’s name.
What Happens if My Child’s Identity is Stolen?
The Equifax hack was a reminder that identity thieves are a constant threat to consumers in the US, even children. In fact, a study published by Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab discovered that identity theft rates are 51 times what they are for adults.
If you discover your child’s identity has been stolen, then you can place a fraud alert with the FTC and inquire about your eligibility for a credit freeze. Some states allow credit freezes for children. We also recently published a newsletter that can walk you through how to pull a free credit report each year.
The Kansas City bankruptcy lawyers at The Sader Law Firm can help you discover possible options for debt relief. Follow our blog for future updates on helpful tips for student loans and repairing your credit.