9 ways to combat child identity theft

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You try to protect your kids in every way possible, with bicycle helmets, healthy meals and safe surroundings. Few parents realize that of all the dangers out there, their children’s identity is uniquely vulnerable. Their financial history is a blank slate, and they never check their credit score.

Identity fraud is a serious problem, with 13.1 million victims in 2015, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. An earlier Javelin report focusing on child identity theft estimated that 1 in 40 U.S. households with children under age 18 had at least one child whose personal information had been compromised by identity criminals.

Thieves can use your child’s private information to open bank accounts and credit cards, rent an apartment, start a new job, apply for utilities, access benefits such as welfare and unemployment, take out major loans and commit crimes — all under your child’s name.

These actions can haunt your children into adulthood, preventing them from obtaining student loans, employment or housing, and burdening them with many other troubles. Take these steps to protect them from identity theft.

FREE TOOL: Be alert to ID fraud. Check your credit report today at myBankrate.