Hundreds of millions of identities are exposed to identity theft each year. In a recent study, it was found that: "10.2% of children had someone else using their Social Security number. This is 51 times higher than the 0.2% rate for adults". Children's Social Security numbers were used more often than adults for a variety of reasons. A child's Social Security number is very enticing to thieves because it is unused and can be paired with any name and birth date. In addition, a child's identity can be used for years before being detected.
To know if your child is a victim of identity theft, check to see if your child has a credit report. It is important to check all three of the credit reporting agencies as the reports are not identical.
- For Trans Union; fill out their online Child Identity Theft Inquiry form.
- For Experian; follow the instructions on their online form.
- For Equifax; follow the instructions on their website, and submit your request by mail.
If your child has a credit report, visit IdentityTheft.gov to report and recover from identity theft.
Illegal immigration, organized crime, and friends and family are typical culprits for this type of crime. Telltale signs that a thief has stolen your child's identity would be if you start receiving bills in your child's name, collection letters or calls, notices from the IRS regarding taxes, or if your child has been turned down for government benefits.
Be mindful of data breaches that may involve your child's personal information; like ones that occur at schools, medical facilities, and insurance companies. The Identity Theft Resource Center consolidates and publishes information pertaining to identity theft. Alarmingly, the 2016 Data Breach Report indicates that 110 breaches occurred since March 1st. These breaches exposed 1,789,393 records to identity theft.
Parents are urged to be proactive. The Federal Trade Commission's Safeguarding Your Child's Future article provides very detailed instructions on what you as a parent can do to protect your child. There is an extensive amount of online resources available for law enforcement, attorneys, advocates, businesses, and consumers to help fight and prevent identify theft.