Child identity theft: A hidden but real danger

Thieves use children's information for credit fraud, so don't let it go undiscovered.

Black waste basket full of shredded paper.

Chances are you shred or secure any paperwork that contains personally identifying information, such as your Social Security number or birth date. But do you do the same for your children?

You should. More than one million children were victims of identify theft or fraud in 2017. Youngsters' personal information is appealing to thieves who can use it to build a clean credit profile where one doesn't currently exist. Another reason: It takes longer to get caught.

Adults may be actively involved in the credit world, checking statements and scores, but parents don't tend to check their children's credit, so thieves can do more damage over an extended amount of time.

The good news is, with a few simple steps, you can better safeguard your children's personal information and pursue any problems on their behalf.

Ask questions

Many schools and extracurricular programs ask for kids' Social Security numbers and other personally identifying information for them to participate. Ask why they need this information, and whether it's mandatory. If it's required – ask how they will keep the information secured. Then determine whether you're comfortable with that level of protection.

Know warning signs of child identity theft

Receiving mail in a child's name could be a warning sign. Some of those include:

  • Collection notices,
  • Bills or new credit cards,
  • Traffic violation warrants, or
  • Jury summons.

Don't request credit reports

Resist the temptation to check for a credit report in your child's name as a preventive measure unless you have a strong suspicion or know for certain that your child's identity has been compromised.

Take action

If you suspect fraud you'll also want to contact the FTC to get help measuring the scope of the problem, and then file a report with your local police department. It's possible that a credit freeze could help alleviate the situation in the future.

Promote privacy

Get more information about identity theft from State Farm®. For added security, look into identity theft insurance.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.
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