Guarding Your Child From Identity Theft & Fraud

Thousands of children become the victims of identity theft each year. Learn how scammers steal children's identities, the long-term impact this has on their lives, and what steps you can take to protect your family from fraud.

Teen uses her credit card for a purchase

A Prime Target For Identity Theft

Adults aren't the only ones vulnerable to identity theft. Children are at risk as well - even if they don't receive credit card offers or phishing spam often associated with scams.

In 2011, the Carnegie Mellon University CyLab conducted a study involving 40,000 children and found that 10.2 percent of them were identity theft victims.

What makes children targets? In its publication "Safeguarding Your Child's Future," the Federal Trade Commission says that while many adults regularly check their credit reports for unusual activity, parents may not think to check their children's credit reports, since they don't expect their children to have a credit file. Because of this, identity thieves can sometimes use the stolen identities of children for years without detection, according to the FTC.

Preventative Measures

Many of the same precautions you take to shield yourself from identity theft can help protect your children as well, including:

  • Giving out your child's social security number in only the most secure scenarios.
  • Keeping your child's social security number at home in a secure location - not in your purse or wallet.
  • Inquire whether a credit file exists with your child's social security number and, if so, take proper action to help secure it.
  • Looking out for strange bills or credit card offers in your child's name. This type of "junk mail" could be a hint that your child's identity has been compromised.
It's also important to pass these types of tips on to older children who use personal laptops, especially when they head off to college, as identity thieves may target laptops, as well. To help your student avoid both property and identity theft when they go away to school, check out these five tips for keeping belongings safe on campus.

Published: March 2012

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