You might not think about this, but identity thieves really want your child’s Social Security number. If they get this number, they can do a lot, including buying a car, renting an apartment, opening a credit card account, or getting a mortgage. The Social Security numbers of children are great for the bad guys for several reasons:
- Generally, children have a clean record
- Crooks can use these numbers to obtain credit
- Kids usually don’t check out their credit reports until they go to college or buy a car or home. So, the crook can get away with it for years.
As a parent, you should think about putting a freeze on your child’s credit report. Why a freeze? Because credit monitoring isn’t enough. That doesn’t always stop a criminal from opening an account using your child’s Social Security number, but a freeze does.
- Doesn’t create a credit file for a child unless this is required by law or unless they become a victim.
- Parent gets a free copy of the child’s existing credit report.
- Could be a small fee unless the parent can prove the child’s identity was compromised.
- This is free to parents if they want to get the freeze.
- The child doesn’t have to already be a victim of identity theft.
- To request a security freeze with Equifax, you can contact them online or via phone at 1-888-298-0045
- Parents can check to see if their child has a credit file.
- Only some states allow credit freezes, and some fees might apply.
Innovis (A fourth credit reporting agency)
- A parent can freeze their child’s credit file, even if the state doesn’t allow it.
Again, not every state allows protection for a child’s credit. It’s important that you find out what your particular state’s requirements are. Some, for example, might only put a fraud alert on the child’s Social Security number. Other states only offer protection up to a certain age, like 16-years-old. Watch for these signs that someone could be using your child’s credit:
- You get a notice from the IRS that your child hasn’t paid income taxes.
- You get a notice from the IRS that your child’s SSN was used to file a tax return.
- You get collection notices in your child’s name for things they (or you) didn’t purchase.
- Government benefits are rejected because they are going into another account associated with your child’s Social Security number.
Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.