When it comes to identity theft, everyone is a target. Even your kid.
Once your son or daughter's social security number is registered, identity thieves have a reliable way of obtaining this information for the purpose of opening credit card accounts.
A study conducted by the Javelin Strategy & Research shows in 2017 more than one million children were hit with Identity fraud. Unfortunately, some parents find out years after the damage has already been done.
Yolanda Garcia, a credit repair consultant at 7 Plus Credit said, “when they turn eighteen and they are trying to apply for a car … and they get denied, then that's when we will know because the parents will reach out.”
So, how can we effectively protect our kids from identity theft?
Well, a new federal law allows parents to place a free credit freeze on their children social security number. Also known as a security freeze, a credit freeze will make it harder for identity thieves to open accounts in your kid’s name. To freeze your kid’s account, you will have to contact all three nationwide credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
“You can do it online," Yolanda Garcia said, a consultant at 7 Plus Credit. "But then again online is very risky. I would recommend you can call them and they will mail you a form."
There are several other best practices to avoid identity theft. Parents should sit their children down, then proceed to educate them about information that is safe to share on social media and information to avoid sharing on the Internet, such as a social security number.
It is a challenging conversation to have because there usually isn't a quick cause and effect that happens. For instance, a child shares his or her social security number in a private message and the next day identity theft occurs. With this in mind, it is important to check credit at least once a year to help detect abnormal activity and put an end to it.
An easier way to stay on top of a child's credit is to sign up for credit monitoring. The software will alert the parent soon after suspicious activity, where he or she can take action straightaway.
Having important documents, such as social security cards, should be locked in a safe and secure place.
Chances are these actions will minimize the odds of having a child's identity stolen. However, signs that thief has occurred include bills in the mail addressed to your child; credit card offers addressed to your child; and phone cards from creditors asking for your child.
If you believe your child has been affected, that first thing you need to do is file a police report. Next, navigate your browser to identitytheft.gov where the agency provides access to online report the identity theft online, plus get a recovery plan.
To learn more about tips, signs and how to protect you and your kids from identity fraud visit the Federal Trade Commission website .