smart spending

9 ways to combat child identity theft

Check your child's credit report
Check your child's credit report © Eugenio Marongiu/Shutterstock.com

If you suspect your child's identity has been compromised, contact the three major credit-reporting agencies -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- and request to see credit reports on your child's Social Security number. The credit reporting agencies are required to respond, even if it's just to report that there are no credit transactions related to your child, says Winston.

In light of the rising child identity theft epidemic, some experts recommend annual checks on your child's credit report. If your child's credit history has been tarnished with fraud, you will have time to correct it "before the child applies for a job, a loan for tuition or a car, or needs to rent an apartment," says Levin.

"At AnnualCreditReport.com, consumers get one free report per year from each of the big three reporting agencies," says Winston. "So if you use one free report every four months, you can maintain a constant cycle of free reports."

Other experts, like Weisman, suggest a safety check when your child is 16, especially if there are no signs of fraudulent activity. By checking your child's credit at age 16, your child has enough time to sort out any possible issues well before applying for financial aid or a job.

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