If you are a parent and you’ve protected your personal identity, that’s a good start but it’s not enough. Have you thought about child identity theft and put protection in place for your kids?
According to a recent study conducted by Javelin, over 1 million children in the United States had their identities stolen last year. To make things worse, almost 66% of the victims were under eight years old.
As a parent myself, I worry all the time about providing the best possible future for my children. When I heard about this report, well… it makes me sick to think about it. To know that all of these kids, that once they actually need to start their credit history, it’s already ruined and not even their fault!
Why Make Kids the Victim?
So, this got me thinking, WHY are people stealing kids identities? Seems to be the lowest level of a human if you ask me.
The reason is kids identities are worth more to scammers than adults. Al Pascual, Javelin’s senior vice president for research, said: “Criminals can have a field day with a child’s identity information because it’s never been used before,” and “When a bank or other company pulls a credit report, they’re not going to find anything, and so the criminal has a clean pallet to work on.”
That actually makes sense, it gives the bad guys potentially years to get away with ruining our kids’ identities, instead of hoping an adult, who is probably using their credit, doesn’t catch it before they can make some money.
Prevent Child Identity Theft
So, what’s the main way you can protect your kids’ identities?
Freeze their credit reports.
Now, this sounds simple, and in ways it is, BUT you need to understand some of the gotchas.
There are three main steps to freezing your child’s credit
You have to live in a state that allows parents and/or legal guardians to freeze their kids’ credit.
You need to freeze their credit at all of the primary credit bureaus
The process may change over time so I’ve linked to the source instead of putting the details here. Instructions on how to freeze credit at each of the three credit bureaus can be found by clicking each their names.
You need to check your child’s credit report once a year to make sure their credit history is still fine.
If you’ve never used Annualcreditreport.com, they are a FREE credit reporting service provided by the three main credit bureaus, and required by law from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Keep in mind if the child is under 13, you can’t request a report online through annualcreditreport.com and you’ll need to contact each of the credit reporting companies individually.
Protecting your child’s identity requires more effort than protecting your own. If you happen to live in a state that still does not allow you to freeze your child’s credit, OR if you want an easier process, there are options.
There are companies that will monitor your credit for a nominal fee and let you know if some suspicious activity takes place. Some companies, even use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help protect your identities.
No matter what option you choose, either freezing, monitoring (or both!) be sure to take action and do something. Your child’s future just may depend on it.