Identity theft can be hard to recognize and even harder to predict. It can often occur without the victim’s knowledge for an extended period of time, which can lead to serious consequences and financial loss.
An even more unsettling notion is the idea of identity theft happening to a child. This type of theft is more likely to go unnoticed because children’s credit scores are monitored much less frequently than those of adults.
The best way to avoid child identity theft is to be proactive and look for indications that someone is illegally using your child’s personal information. Here are four telltale signs of child identity theft to look out for:
1. Denial of Benefits
If you receive a notice that your child’s health care coverage or nutrition assistance has been denied by the government, determine what the reasoning is for that denial. If the reason is because someone else is already using your child’s Social Security number to receive those benefits, your child may have fallen victim to identity theft.
2. Overdue Bill
If you get a collection call stating that your child has an overdue bill for goods or services, do some digging to see what the bill is for. If it’s for some service that you did not buy, or for an account that you have not opened for your child, someone else may have fraudulently opened an account and purchased goods or services in your child’s name.
3. Failure to Pay Income Taxes
If the IRS contacts you claiming that your child did not pay income taxes, this is a red flag because children under the age of 19 are not responsible for paying income taxes. A thief may have used your child’s Social Security number on a job application or tax form.
4. Student Loan Application Denied
If you receive a notice that your child’s student loan application has been denied, this could be a sign of identity theft. A thief may have used your child’s Social Security number to open an account or line of credit. If the thief doesn’t pay the bills for that account on time, that could have a damaging effect on your child’s credit score, which could prevent your child from being approved for a student loan.
In addition to looking out for these four red flags, implementing a child identity theft protection program can provide even more awareness and security for parents who are worried about the safety of their young ones.
There are several warning signs that could indicate your child has experienced identity theft. Knowing what to look for can help you recognize potential theft more quickly and minimize the damage. Learn more from the Federal Trade Commission here.