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Learn how to protect your child's identity

Cristina Avatar By: Cristina | Last updated February 13, 2019

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Children are definitely more vulnerable to identity theft than grown-ups. Their innocence, naivety and lack of information or proper education make them easy targets for ID thieves.

Over half a million children fall victims of identity theft every year, according to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). Kids have their SSN stolen and thieves use it to obtain various things: apply for loans, utilities, rent something, get a job, open bank accounts using their information and so on. Creditors don’t always check the age of the applicant and accept applications anyway. Shockingly enough, sometimes the thieves prove to be part of the family, which makes it even harder to be caught.

There are some clear signs that your child’s identity has been stolen: you might receive a warning from the IRS that your kid hasn’t paid his income tax or his personal information was used to get a tax return, you might receive a bill for something you didn’t order, etc. That is why you shouldn’t just protect your little one from physical harm, but also from ID fraud.

Here are some measures you should take to keep your child safe from ID theft:

  • Keep his SSN (social security number) safe. Try not to carry it around with you/him everywhere you go and don’t divulge it unless absolutely necessary. If there are activities in school for which it might be needed, try to opt for alternatives if possible. Same goes for other personal information. Disclose as little as you can
  • Shred any important documents with your kid’s info on it, once you don’t use them anymore
  • Teach him about the importance of online privacy and security; If your child is allowed to have social media accounts, teach him not to disclose or share any personal information on them. He should also be very careful how he uses his personal information anytime he goes online, regardless of the websites he is accessing. The importance of creating strong passwords is also something he should be informed about.
  • Guard his intimacy when he goes to the doctor. If he has to fill in any forms, make sure he does it privately, only for the receptionist and other patients can’t sneak a peek
  • Have your children’s credit monitored. Most children shouldn’t even have a credit score, since they don’t usually apply for credit; if you know that’s his case, ask the 33 major bureaus if there are any credit reports in his name. If the answer is yes, then your kid had his ID stolen
  • Disable geotagging; otherwise an ID thief with decent IT skills could get into the code and find out where certain photos were taken, thus finding out your child’s home or school address
  • If your child’s identity has already been stolen, it is important to take action immediately. Gather as much proof as you can, document everything and then report the incident. Also, if the case, make sure you freeze his credit, so that no one can have access to it and contact the 3 major bureaus to have all the corrupt data removed from his credit history.