A recent trend across the country has seen children targeted by criminals for the purposes of identity theft, and many parents are on the lookout for ways to detect such a crime.
According to Intersections Inc., an identity theft protection company, one likely tip-off is if telemarketers start calling a house asking for the child by name. Because many telemarketing companies get their information from other sources, it is highly unlikely that they would randomly begin calling a child to solicit goods or services. Therefore, if that name is on a list, it's because it was put there, and could signal that this was the result of a successful identity theft. This is also true of any commercial mail a child receives, particularly credit card offers.
By staying on the lookout for these warning signs, parents have a better chance of preventing a potential problem before it grows even bigger.
"Intersections believes that education and awareness can help consumers, and in this case, parents of young children, modify their behaviors and minimize the impacts of identity theft and fraud," said Intersections CEO and founder, Michael Stanfield. "Education is one of the most effective weapons against identity theft. We want to help parents understand the risks and know what to do if theft does occur."
The company also warned that many schools ask for a child's Social Security number, but often do not require that parents surrender that information. When possible, it advises that consumers keep that kind of information private, as it may not be properly stored or handled and thus greatly increases the risk of a possible identity theft.
Often, children are targeted by identity thieves for two reasons. First, they have no credit history, meaning that the criminals are essentially working with a clean slate. More importantly, most consumers are unlikely to check on their school-age child's credit health. Because of this, it is unlikely that they will notice any discrepancies on a credit report until well after the fraud has been perpetrated, meaning that it is far less likely a criminal will be caught.
If a consumer is worried about the security of their or their child's identity, it may be prudent to enroll in a credit monitoring program, which will alert them whenever someone attempts to open a line of credit in their name.