Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, even children. Individuals below 18 are being targeted 35 times more often than adults and the incidence is continuing to grow at a rapid pace. According to a 2012 Child Identity Theft Report, identity theft cases for children below 5 have doubled in the past year.
Children: Why are they more vulnerable than adults?
Children make tempting targets for identity thieves because, aside from their unblemished credit profiles and low deduction rates, their identities may go undetected for years.
Think about it – as opposed to adults, children don’t monitor their bank statements or keep tabs on their personal information regularly because they have no legitimate usage for their Social Security Numbers. It would also take years for children to apply for student loans or acquire credit under their own name. This makes it easy for identity theft to go unnoticed.
Warning signs your child’s identity is stolen
If your child begins to receive bills or notices for products or services you didn’t receive, someone’s misusing your child’s personal information. Another sign is when you get turned down for government benefits because another account is already using the SSN.
What are the consequences?
Once your child’s identity is stolen, there could be serious consequences. It could affect his credit score and even his future employment history.
Steps to protect your child’s identity
● Keep documents safe. Lock your child’s important documents (including birth certificate, SSN, or passport) in a very safe place. If you ever take them out for proof of your child’s identity, make sure to put them back.
● Cross shred papers with important data. You must make sure to shred the document that has your child’s SSN before throwing it onto the trashbin. Information on unshredded paper is a free pass for fraudsters.
● Don’t give out information unless absolutely necessary. The use of your child’s SSN should be for professional purposes only.
● Ask questions. Businesses, hospitals, and doctor’s offices usually ask for SSNs as identifiers. lf this happens, always ask them why they need it. Make a list of the organizations you’ve shared information with; should anything happen, this will hasten the investigation.
● Educate your children about safe internet usage. The world wide web is where fraudsters lurk around, waiting for their next innocent victim. Don’t assume that leading by example is enough. Instead, teach them to keep all personal information private on their emails and social media profiles to protect themselves from fraudsters.
● Check your identity theft coverage. With identity theft on the rise, it is important to check with your insurance carrier for identity theft coverage. If your current policy doesn’t have one, you can enroll in an identity theft plan that covers you and your children. Companies like Legal Shield can help protect each of your family’s identity beforehand and offer legal support in cases of theft. You can find out more by checking Legal Shield on Facebook.
Stay vigilant in safeguarding your children’s identity!
About the Author:
Melissa Page is a professional writer of over four years. She writes about safety and finance, among other topics. When she’s not writing, she spends her day reading books. Follow her on Twitter, @Melissapage90.