Parents have a new set of dangers to worry about when it comes to raising their children, one of which is child identity theft. The most recent figures show child identity theft accounts for 7 percent of all identity theft cases. Analysts say the number is actually higher, as many cases go unreported. Many identity theft victims do not realize their personal data has been stolen until they apply for their first job or student loan and realize their credit score is damaged.
Identity thieves target children because they have no credit history, allowing criminals to start with a blank slate and perpetrate their crime for years without detection. This will lead to long-term credit score damage and black marks on your child's credit report. Identity thieves are able to apply for credit with a child's information largely because credit checks do not provide lenders with the applicant’s date of birth.
Safeguarding your child's Social Security number is one of the best ways to protect them from identity theft. Most schools, sports teams and community organizations will ask parents for their child's Social Security number. You do not have to give up this information. Instead, provide them with other documents to prove the child's age or identity, such as their birth certificate. If schools request a copy, ask them how they plan to store the document.
Keep your children's Social Security card locked away until they are old enough to take care of it themselves. When your kids apply for a job or a loan, talk to them about keeping their Social Security number safe. Tell them not to carry the card with them in their wallet or purse, as this heightens their risk of identity theft.
Teach them to check their credit report. This is something every young adult should do to gauge their credit health and make sure their credit information is accurate. Talk to them about the benefits of credit monitoring, which will notify them of any changes to their credit report. This is especially advantageous during their college years, when they are handling their own finances or managing their first credit card.