At first I laughed and then the light bulb turned on: Child identity theft.
When thinking about protecting your identity, most often adults forget their children have identities that need protection too. Identity theft is high and scammers are not only looking for social security numbers with established credit histories, but un-established as well. A student turning 18 and finding out they can’t qualify for financial aid for college because of bad credit that isn’t theirs is not a situation you want to deal with.
DO NOT RUN A CREDIT REPORT ~ Many parents think the best way to find out if their child’s identity has been stolen is to run a credit report. DO NOT DO THIS. Experts say that running a report establishes a report and makes it more of a target to thieves.
WATCH FOR SIGNS ~ Getting those pesky pre-approved credit card offers in the mail is a pain. But, before grabbing them and tearing them up or putting them through your shredder, always look at the name to make sure they aren’t in your child’s name. Both pre-approved notices and calls from collection agencies are a red flag that your child’s identity has been stolen.
CALL SOCIAL SECURITY ~ If you are concerned, calling Social Security to inquire if any income has been earned under your child’s social security number is a good option. Social Security cannot check for credit cards or loans, but if there is income under the social security number there is a good chance that credit cards and loans are as well.
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN ~ Teach your children about identity theft and to not to give out any personal information to anyone, even when if a person tells them they need it. Just as with everything else in life, education is the key.
DO NOT GIVE THE NUMBER OUT ~ Doctor’s offices, health insurance companies, and youth sports groups do not need your child’s social security number. If the company, organization, or doctor’s office protests your objection, keep your stance and do not give in. Protect the number just as you would yours.
BANK ACCOUNTS ~ If you want to open a bank account in your child’s name, open a savings account instead of a checking account. Checking accounts can have overdraft protection accounts attached to them, opening a line of credit that is reported on a credit report.
GET PROTECTION ~ If you are paying to protect your own credit, then you should protect theirs as well. $15.00 a month is not much when you figure how much time and money it will take to fix their credit after a scammer ran away with thousands and thousands of dollars of damage.