Child identity theft is a relatively
new crime, but reports of it are increasing.
Of the identity theft complaints received
by the Federal Trade Commission in 2005, 5 percent involved
those younger than the age of 18.
A common red flag that something is amiss
is unexpected mail such as collection letters or letters
regarding financial accounts. Watch for credit reports
in your child's name even though the child has never
applied for credit. If you have any reason to be suspicious,
check it out.
| If you haven't had any problems yet, these seven steps will help protect your child from becoming a victim.
to protect identity
1. Only disclose personal information if you know how it will be used. Avoid giving personal information out on the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you know exactly who you are dealing with, especially when responding to sales promotions. Avoid carrying your Social Security card in your wallet. Memorize the number and keep the card in a safe place.
Parents need to keep an eye on their children
while their children are on the Internet. The rising
popularity of blogs and social networking sites has
caused some of these Web sites to become playgrounds
for identity thieves and predators.
Don't let your son or daughter post his
or her phone number, address or school name. Tell your
children not to let their friends post their personal
2. Shred any paper that contains a Social Security number.
Ask your bank or credit union to require a photo ID
and password for all transactions for your, or
your child's, accounts.
Be wary of credit card offers in the mail. Parents
who have opened credit in their child's name, as a joint
account holder, don't need to be too alarmed.
"When parents do that, they open
a credit history for that child and as a result they
can get preapproved credit offers," says Rod Griffin,
manager of public education at Experian. He says that
some credit card providers have their own lists and
could have gotten the child's name from a banking institution
if the child has a checking or savings account with
his or her parents.
However, credit experts also recommend
not taking any chances. If you suspect a problem, contact
the three major credit bureaus: Equifax,
Experian and TransUnion.
"I would say if you get something in the mail,
don't think it's a mistake and say, 'Aw this is my child's
name. This is cute.' Act on it to limit the situation,"
says Diane Terry, director of the Fraud Victim Assistance
Department at TransUnion. "Understand that your
child could be a victim, and it's probably not a mistake."
One way to opt out of prescreened offers
of credit is to call a toll-free number: (888) 5OPT-OUT
or (888) 567-8688.