Protecting kids from identity theft

Chief Mom Officer recently posted about tax identity and corporate identity theft, followed by a great piece on protecting children’s identity. She posts:

27% of child identity theft crimes are committed by people who know the child – friends or family members, sometimes even parents. The remaining 73% of crimes are committed by criminals who steal the child’s information either through a data breach or good old-fashioned theft. They then create a synthetic identity for the social security number, using the real number combined with a fake date of birth to steal the identity and use it – likely undetected – for years.

The entire post is worth a read: Thieves Are Coming For Your Children – Protect Their Identities.

I recently started looking into securing the kids’ credit files, after we locked ours down following a string of fraudulent credit activity. It was easy enough for us to do, but what a chore it is to do the kids’ (minors). Some of the required documents make me wonder how the credit reporting agencies will use this info. And it makes me so angry that we have to pay fees for preventive steps (TransUnion charges a fee but Experian and Equifax do not)! It’s capitalizing on the front end, and then when a breach of their systems occurs, we get to shell out again for “further protection”!

Anyway, these sites below provide instructions on both obtaining your child’s credit report (minors should not have one) and requesting a security freeze:

  • Equifax
  • Experian – online portal available for submission of letter and attending documents
  • TransUnion – charges a fee in some states

Additional tips to protect against Child Identity Theft from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

  • Find a safe location for all paper and electronic records that show your child’s personal information
  • Don’t share your child’s Social Security number unless you know and trust the other party. Ask why it’s necessary and how it will be protected. Ask if you can use a different identifier, or use only the last four digits of your child’s Social Security number.
  • Shred all documents that show your child’s personal information before throwing them away.
  • Be aware of events that put information at risk. For example, there’s an adult in your household who might want to use a child’s identity to start over; you lose a wallet, purse or paperwork that has your child’s Social Security information; there’s a break-in at your home; or a school, doctor’s office or business notifies you that your child’s information was affected by a security breach.

I’m taking the time to do this now, to prevent time-consuming and ongoing paperwork that the kids will have to go through if this ever happens to them. Identity theft leaves a huge burden of work on its victims.

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