Children make easy targets for identity theft and fraudulent activity due to their pristine credit profiles and dormant Social Security numbers. Predators are drawn to these identities because of this inactivity and the child’s presumed invisibility in the credit system. For these reasons it’s so important for parents to be vigilant in protecting the identities of their children.
Never give out your child’s Social Security number unless you already know and trust the recipient. It is okay to question why they need it, what they will do with it, and how they plan on safeguarding it.
Never carry your child’s Social Security card or number in a purse or wallet. Leave it at home in a secure place or in a safety deposit box.
Talk to your children about the risks of giving their personal information out to anyone online. It’s wise for today’s parents to monitor their kid’s activities online and through mobile devices, leaving them less chance for personal exposure.
Teach your child the risks of providing personal information, such as a social security number (SSN) or mother’s maiden name, to anyone outside the immediate family. Don’t give children their SSNs until they’re old enough to know how to properly use and protect them.
Shred anything that includes your child’s personal information before putting it in the trash. A cross-shredder is a wise household investment so all documents with personal identifying information can be shredded.
Watch out for warning signs, such as:
• Credit cards arriving in the child’s name or calls from creditors regarding current and pastdue debts
• Your child is unable to establish a checking or savings account, with or without a parent’s signature
• You receive notice from the IRS that the child did not pay taxes on income or that their social security number was used on another tax return
• Your child is denied their first job because the SSN does not verify to him or her
Monitor your child’s social networking accounts. Identity thieves troll social networking websites, so make sure private information like date of birth, address, and names of family members are not included in profiles. It’s also a good idea to set privacy settings so your child’s profile can only be viewed by friends and family.
Regularly check your child’s credit report. It is a good idea to regularly check whether your child has a credit report. If there is one and it has errors due to fraud or misuse you will have time to correct it before the child applies for a job, a loan for tuition or a car, or needs to rent an apartment.