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Children make good targets for identity thieves: Keep them safe

Your child’s identity may be at risk. Unfortunately children make good targets for identity thieves because the theft may go undetected for years. Identity theft could affect your child's future credit and employment history if the thieves obtain credit accounts or even get jobs using your child’s identity.

Child identity theft may come from several sources but three very common ways are: School directories, Family members and Mobile phones.

School Directories. Many school forms and directories require your child’s personal information. This information can be used by identity thieves. Find out how your child’s information is collected, used, stored, and thrown away.

Think about opting your child out of the school directory if it is used by any third parties. Often a third party company is the place where identifying information is not secure. Asking schools and other organizations to safeguard your child’s information can help minimize your child’s risk of identity theft.

Family Members. Unfortunately child identity theft often comes from a parent or family member using a child’s identifying information. Bad credit, overwhelming debt or job search may compel a family member to take advantage of a child’s clean credit history.

Mobile Phones. The growing use of mobile devices and technology among children and teenagers has made them more vulnerable to online identity theft. Children are on the Internet, using their mobile devices to sign up for Apps, shop online and purchase electronic equipment.

Common Uses of Stolen Identifying Information.

  • Open a bank account or checking account
  • Apply for credit cards
  • Apply for loans including personal and car loans
  • Apply for utilities, such as cellular phone, cable and Internet services
  • Apply for a Job
  • Rent an apartment

How to detect if your child’s identity has been stolen.

  • Your child begins to receive pre-approved credit cards and other financial offers
  • You try to open a financial account for your child but discover one already exists, or the application is denied because of a poor credit history
  • A credit report already exists in your child’s name

Actions you can take to protect your child’s identifying information. Around the age of 16 check your child’s credit report; that way you can know what, if any, information exists about your child before they reach 18 years of age. You can also request to opt-out of your child’s school directory if possible. Monitoring the mobile devices your children are using can stop an identity thief in their tracks. Children should also be taught how to be safe online and what information to avoid sharing over the Internet.

It cannot be stressed enough that your child’s identity must be protected. If compromised your child could start their adult life with a criminal record if an identity thief is arrested for other crimes as those crimes could become associated with your child's record.

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