At a time when people are pretending to be something — or someone — else, one frightening issue we shouldn't forget about is identity theft. Especially if you have children.
Protect your child and their identity by taking these steps:
A child's pristine Social Security number is like gold for identity thieves. Once a skilled identity thief has a child's number, they can create a whole new identity and use that number to set up credit accounts, take out loans, and of course, rack up debt.
Details such as your child's full name, address and date of birth can be enough to get an identity thief started. The web is a happy hunting ground for identity thieves, so avoid making your child's personal information available online.
It's important to keep personal information under lock and key and away from prying eyes. This includes your child's Social Security number, birth certificate, passport or other sensitive information.
Watch out for preapproved credit cards, bills for unfamiliar services or unexpected medical collection notices in your child's name. Some credit monitoring products will alert you of activity associated with your child.
Identity thieves troll social networking websites in search of potential victims. Make sure your child knows not to share private information in their social profiles — such as their date of birth, address and names of family members.
What can you do if you suspect your child is a victim? Take these steps:
- Check with Experian for the existence of a credit report in your child's name. If a credit report exists, it can be frozen at no cost. Visit experian.com/fraud for more information.
- If you know of any accounts opened in your child's name, contact the business and let them know the account is fraudulent.
- File a report with the FTC online or call 877-438-4338.
- File a police report with local law enforcement.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.