Identity Theft and Your Kids

Are your kids at risk for identity theft?

Identity theft isn't one of the things you worry about when it comes to young kids and teens. As a matter of fact, identity theft probably never even crosses your mind with all the worries that occupy a parent's brain. Unfortunately, identity thieves prove it a necessary worry. Approximately 4% of identity theft cases involve children.

Are your kids at risk for identity theft? Here's information you need to know.

Identity theft and kids

We worry about our kids getting sick. We worry about them doing well in school and making friends. We worry about them being successful when they grow up. With all of these worries, the least of them seems to be the theft of your child's identity. We may not worry about it, but unfortunately the cases continue to grow.

Why would identity thieves steal the identity of children? Simple. Children don't use credit. They don't maintain credit cards and bank accounts. The thieves steal the kid's identity; open accounts in his name and uses his credit -- much like they do when they steal an adult's identity.

What appeals to thieves about stealing the identity of children is that children don't usually open up credit or bank accounts, and no parent really thinks it's necessary to check his child's credit record. This gives the thieves years to exploit and run up all kinds of charges using the child's identity.

The theft of your child's identity only gets noticed he grows up and needs to get a credit card in his name, open up a checking account, or take out a loan. Only it's too late -- the damage is done.

How does an identity thief steal a child's identity?

Identity theft of children occurs in several different ways. Medical records get compromised, foster parents abuse the child's personal information, and even EE savings bonds become targets. Why? They all contain the magic number...a Social Security Number.

Anytime a child's social security number is given out, the chance of identity theft just increased. In 2/3 of the identity theft cases involving children, the thief is related to the child. Be careful about giving your child's social security number to anyone other than a professional who needs it for professional reasons.

New college students needs to guard their identity too. If your son or daughter leaves personal information around the room, a new roommate may take advantage of them. Mailed credit card offers contain enough information to allow identity theft to happen especially in dormitory living environments.

Want a great graduation gift for your college bound son or daughter? Try a "paper shredder" and explain in great detail the importance of using it for community living. It maybe be one of life's more valuable lessons!

Protect your children

-- Keep their social security numbers locked up.

-- Never give the number to another family member. Only give the number to professional adults needing the number for a specific professional reason.

-- Ask that the numbers of your family members not be listed on insurance cards in the event that it is lost or stolen.

-- Don't keep your children's social security numbers in your purse or wallet.

-- Run a credit report check on your children yearly. The credit report should come back saying that no credit has been established for that child.

Be vigilant, follow these suggestions, and keep your child safe from becoming one of the next identity theft statistics.

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