smart spending

9 ways to combat child identity theft

Monitor for suspicious activity
Monitor for suspicious activity © Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock.com

Watch for preapproved credit cards, bills for unfamiliar services or unexpected medical collection notices, all in your child's name, says Winston. He also warns that you should be alarmed if you or your child gets rejected for government benefits because those benefits are being paid to another account using your child's Social Security number.

Other red flags include calls from creditors about debt linked to your child or notices from the Internal Revenue Service about unpaid taxes on income or the use of your child's Social Security number on another tax return, says Adam Levin, chairman of IDentity Theft 911, an identity theft and data risk management services provider.

Sound the alarm bells if you attempt to open a financial account for your child but find that one already exists, or receive a rejection for poor credit history.

Winston says existing financial accounts under your child's name are the most important ones to monitor because they are the ones with actual money. Keep a close eye on savings, CDs or sub-account credit cards. "Sometimes, knowledgeable identity thieves will make one or two small 'test charges' on an account over a period of weeks or months to see if any adult is paying attention," he says. "If no adult flags the account, it's a freebie for the thief."

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