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Children and ID theft

Victims of identity theft are getting younger ... much younger. According to the Federal Trade Commission, of the more than 399,000 identity theft complaints received in 2016, four percent involved people under 19 years old.

While parents and relatives were involved in some of these cases, other identity thieves increasingly target children because of the perceived ease. Many children today receive a social security number soon after birth. For an identity thief, all it takes is a single social security number to begin a crime spree. Because children do not have a need to credit until they are adults, it could take years before anyone notices that a theft has occurred. By that time, mountains of unpaid debt could accumulate. What can parents do to secure their child’s identity? Here are a few tips:

  • If your child receives credit card offers in the mail, he or she may be a victim of identity theft. Contact the company sending the offer, as well one of the three major credit bureaus to investigate.
  • Do not carry your child’s social security card with you. Memorize their social security number like you would your own.
  • Check your child’s credit report whenever you check yours. Look for suspicious activity.
  • When children are old enough to use the Internet, discuss the need to practice safe surfing tips. This includes not giving personal information out to strangers.
  • As your children get older, discuss how to choose passwords and how to maintain the privacy of their personal information.
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