When it comes to our children’s credit scores, we usually don’t think that they have any credit built up. We usually think that since kids are focusing more on playtime and less on money, that we shouldn’t worry about our kids’ credit and if they have any credit cards open in their name. The reality is though, we do need to worry, considering that scammers can open credit cards up using children’s names in a scheme called child identity theft.
What is Child Identity Theft?
Child identity theft occurs when a scammer steals a child’s social security number and applies to credit cards, loans, bank accounts, and social security benefits. A child is issued a social security number as soon as they are born so that parents can claim them on their tax returns, get them a bank account, or create medical records for them. However, scammers take advantage of this for their own needs, and sometimes it takes years for them to get caught.
Why Are Children Targeted For Identity Theft?
Scammers know that parents aren’t checking their child’s credit or what credit card accounts they have open, since children aren’t concerned about credit cards or finances. Since children’s credit scores are usually left alone until the child turns 18, scammers take advantage of this and open up credit under the child’s name. They know they will get approved of many credit cards and loans, since the child has no credit, and it will take years for them to get caught, meaning that they will get away with the crime easier.
Signs That Your Child is a Victim of Identity Theft
- You start getting notices in the mail that your child is pre-approved for a credit card. Credit card companies are able to look up credit files to redirect potential customers to apply for their credit cards. If your child gets a letter suggesting that they should open up a credit card account, this could be a sign that your child has a credit score, and someone is using their SSN.
- Your child gets rejected for government benefits. This is usually because there is already an account open under the SSN you are applying under, and should be investigated further.
- Your child receives a warning letter from the IRS in the mail. The warning letter usually states that your child didn’t file their taxes, when they shouldn’t have to.
- You start receiving calls stating that your child is guilty for not paying their bills. Your child should not be owing anyone any money for bills at such a young age. If you’re getting random calls stating otherwise, it should be investigated further.
How to Avoid Child Identity Theft For Your Children?
- Don’t share your child’s SSN with anyone. This number alone can be used to apply for credit cards, loans, open up accounts, and many other things. Keeping it private ensures that your child will be better protected from child identity theft.
- Don’t share your child’s personal information. With this personal information, it can help scammers look up what their social security number is and help them fill out applications.
- Keep all documentation with child’s information hidden away, and shred it if you don’t need it anymore. This will ensure that only you can see your child’s personal information, and that no fraudulent accounts will be made under your child’s information.
- Ask your child’s school about its directory information policy. Figure out who the school shares your child’s information with and opt out of anything you don’t trust.
What To Do If Your Child is a Victim to Child Identity Theft
- Check their credit score. This will determine how much fraud your child has obtained.
- Keep all records and evidence that suggests your child is a victim to child identity theft. This will help you make the case that your child is a victim of identity theft.
- Call credit bureaus and ask them to remove your child’s information. You can also ask them to place a fraud alert on your child’s credit report.
- Close all accounts associated with your child. Notify them that there has been identity theft using your child’s information as you close the accounts.
- Place a credit freeze on your child’s credit. This will give you peace of mind that no one else can open an account under your child’s information.
- Review your child’s credit reports regularly. This will allow you to see if any new accounts open under your child’s name, and also what accounts your child’s information is under.
- Create an Identity Theft Report for your child. By reporting your child’s identity theft, you will get a personalized recovery plan for your child’s credit.
How Are Online Schools Using Your Child’s Information During the Coronavirus
According to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), websites and online services are required to get consent from parents before collecting personal information from children under the age of 13. However, under COPPA, schools can act as parents and consent to the collection of personal information of their students from educational technology services. The school can only use this information for educational purposes only, not commercial purposes.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You and Your Child
If you suspect that you or your child was talking to someone that could’ve stolen your child’s identity, Social Catfish is here to help you. With our reverse search platform, we can help search up any name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image of the person suspected of stealing your child’s identity.