Did you know more than 1 million children were victims of identity theft or fraud in 2017? While most kids don’t have checking accounts or credit cards, they do have one thing that makes them a tempting target – a Social Security number.
So how can you prevent your children from having their identities stolen, and credit destroyed, before they’ve left high school? Here are some easy ways to protect them:
- Keep it safe
Make sure you store Social Security cards safely – a safe deposit box at your local bank, or in a fire safe box at home – don’t keep their cards in your wallet.
- Check their credit
Children, like adults, are eligible to receive a free credit report each year. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to request a report for each child, then review for suspicious behavior.
- Lock their credit
A credit lock prevents anyone from pulling a credit report using a child’s Social Security Number, a mandatory first step for most accounts and credit applications. For maximum protection, you should file a credit lock with all three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
- Track & report suspicious activity
If you notice your child is receiving “unusual” mail – credit card solicitations, demands for payments – check their credit for suspicious activity. If it appears their identity has been stolen, you can file a report with the Federal Trade Commission by visiting IdentityTheft.gov. You will receive an identity theft report and recovery plan.
While it is possible to get a new Social Security number for your child if you can prove it has been stolen and the use is causing your child significant and continuing harm, it’s much easier to protect their current number.