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Special section Child identity theft

Guard your child's information and be wary of credit offers.

7 steps to protect your child from identity theft

"It is risky to have those offers sent to you in the mail since they can be stolen and individuals can fill them out and use your credit history," says Paul Stephens, a policy analyst at Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, an advocacy group.

5. Check with the credit agencies to see if credit reports exist. Credit reporting agencies do not knowingly maintain credit files on minors, says David Rubinger, spokesman for Equifax. So be sure to contact the three major credit bureaus if you suspect a problem.

Supply your child's complete information -- name, address and date of birth, copy of his or her birth certificate, and Social Security card. Parents or legal guardians should provide a copy of a government-issued document showing identity, such as a driver's license.

"In the case of Equifax," says Rubinger, "if it is determined there has been fraudulent use of the child's Social Security number, we take the appropriate steps to protect the child. The parent or guardian receives written notice that those steps to protect the minor have been set in place. If it is determined that there is no credit filed on the Equifax database, the parent or guardian will receive written notice that no file exists."

At Experian, consumers can call (888) EXPERIAN or (888) 397-3742 and select the fraud option.

"We'll check our records," says Griffin. "If there's a record on file, we will send a report. If there's not, then that's a good thing."

Terry, of TransUnion, advises parents of victims or young adult victims to contact the agency's by e-mail, childidtheft@transunion.com. The agency will check to see if a credit report exists.

"If it does exist we will suppress the file and get a notation on the file saying this is a minor," says Terry. "And, if we are dealing with the parent directly and we see additional activity, we're going to work with the parent to advise them of that."

6. Check for an earnings report from the Social Security Administration. "If your child is 6 years old and there are earnings reported to Social Security, obviously something may have gone awry," says Jonathan Lasher, deputy chief counsel to the inspector general for external relations at the Social Security Administration.

The earnings record and credit report are two things indicating that someone is misusing your credit, says Lasher.

You can get your earnings record by requesting it online, calling or visiting the office. Lasher says the consumer receives this report once a year from the SSA.

Contact the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213.

7. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. If you think your child's identity has been hijacked, contact the FTC via the Internet or phone (877) IDTHEFT or (877) 438-4338.

Create a news alert for "identity theft"
-- Posted: Jan. 3, 2007
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