child identity theft

What Is Child Identity Theft and How To Avoid It

There seem to constantly be new scams coming out, and with more unique and clever disguises, it is common that someone might be a victim of identity theft. In 2020, over 14,000 people experienced identity theft through social media sites, which was a 36% increase from the previous year, according to the FTC. But what is child identity theft and the different types to watch out for? Below we will cover what child identity theft is and how you can spot it. 

What Is Child Identity Theft?

Child identity theft occurs when a person uses personal information like a child’s social security number to obtain services or commit fraud. The person can potentially utilize the child’s identity to open credit cards or a bank account, apply for jobs, take out a loan, rent a home or apartment, and more. All they will need to do is have personal information like social security number, date of birth, full name, or even address. 

How Can Child Identity Theft Occur?

how child identity theft can occur

Child identity theft can occur in many ways, and sometimes you may not be able to tell for months or even years. That is why it is crucial to ensure your child is not sharing any personal information with anyone who is not authorized to have this information. Here are some ways that child identity theft can occur.

  • Compromised At School

Have you filled out paperwork for your child and not wondered where this information is being stored, who will have access to it, or where is this going? A common way a child’s identity is stolen is at a school or office. It is crucial to know that when providing personal information, you want to ask your child who this is for or find out for yourself and go to the school or office. 

  • Theft Occurred On Social Media

The online world can be cruel, and identity theft occurs on social media because a child can easily give out their personal information to the criminal without realizing it. The criminal will try to gain your child’s trust and ask them personal questions. This is why it is crucial to teach your kids about identity theft and make sure they do not share personal details with anyone online. 

  • Phishing Scam

A phishing scam is when someone tricks you into giving them personal information in a text or phone call and then proceeds to steal your identity. These scams are being disguised more selectively, and sometimes it is hard to tell if the call is legitimate or not. You must teach your child not to share information like their social security number or full address unless they can verify who they are speaking with and what this information is required for. 

  • Theft By Family Member

Unfortunately, many cases of child identity theft occur from inside the family. A relative or family member may use another’s government documents to open accounts in the child’s name. You want to make sure your kid’s documents do not get into the wrong hands. It is vital to secure these documents somewhere safe and make sure no other family or friends have this information.  

Signs Your Child Identity Was Stolen

It may be challenging to know if your child’s identity has been stolen, but there are ways to know. Because most young children do not have a credit score and will not be using it to improve their credit. These are just a few ways to know if your kid is a victim of child identity theft.

  • Unexpected Bills In Child’s Name – If you notice bills in your child’s name being sent to your email address or directly to your home, your child’s identity may be compromised.
  • Letter From the IRS – Have you got something in the mail from the IRS saying they owe taxes? This is a sign of child identity theft.  
  • Promotions For Credit Cards or Insurance – New mail or phone calls from credit card companies, auto or health insurance, and other not age-appropriate mail can be a key indicator of identity theft.    
  • Collections Notice – Receiving a collections notice in your kid’s name is uncommon because they will not have any debt at a young age.  

What To Do If Your Child’s Identity Is Stolen?

what to do if child identity was stolen

You can check if your child’s identity has been stolen by doing a few different things. Although some may work better than others, acting immediately will help protect your child. What personal information was compromised will also impact what direction you will want to take first. Use these things if your child is a victim of identity theft.

Social Security Number

If the social security number was compromised, it‘s crucial to contact the major credit bureaus and lock the credit line. It is vital to report this to ensure the criminal does not continue to utilize your child’s information maliciously.  

Bank Account Opened

A bank account was opened in your child’s name. You want to contact the bank immediately and let them know. They may require some documents or proof to show you or your child did not open the account, so be prepared to have the files needed. 

Username And Password

If the username or password was changed on the email or other accounts, change the password immediately. Changing the password will lock the hacker out of the account. Then, check the account for any messages sent to your contacts. Often, the hacker will try to scam others from your account. 

If you think your child’s identity has been stolen, you finally want to report this to the proper authorities. The most important thing to remember is that you must act immediately if you notice any signs of child identity theft. Reporting the theft can help stop it instantly so no devastating events occur. Make sure you teach your child about child identity theft so they are aware and know how to protect themselves.
As an extra safety precaution, consider monitoring your child’s phone use, apps, messages, and emails with Auto-Forward.

Author: Michelle Whalen

I am a mother two who has had her ups and downs raising them. I want to share my words of wisdom with other struggling parents.