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What to do when someone steals your child’s identity

It seems hard to believe that there are people in the world who would corrupt the credit of an innocent child.  Our children have yet to experience how their personal credit can either help or hinder the opportunities that might present themselves; so it breaks our heart to know that someone might steal something so important from our children, just to advance their own selfish needs and desires.

We feel invaded, betrayed, angry, and guilty because we weren’t able to protect the best interest of our children. If this is something in which you can relate, then here are some ways to clean up your child’s credit before this threat destroys it altogether.

Who has access to your child’s social security number and why would they want it?

As you may know, having a social security number can allow you the opportunity to apply for government benefits, open bank and credit card accounts, apply for loans, or even rent a place to live. Unfortunately, a social security number is often the only item needed to receive great benefits.

These are things that your children will someday utilize, and they will need the best credit score possible so that limits won’t be placed on its use.  Unfortunately, when you fill out forms for your child’s school, medical care, or any youth based organization you will have to provide the social security number associated with your child.

You don’t know who has direct access to your child’s information, and unfortunately, this information is available to anyone working within those institutions. In situations such as these, don’t be afraid to speak out. Ask how your child’s information is used, stored, and if it is thrown away or shredded once your child is no longer affiliated with that organization or group. Asking these questions will put them on alert and show them that you are a parent on guard.

You’ll know your child’s identity was stolen when…

No one wants to learn that their child is the victim of identity theft. If you aren’t sure of the signs for identity theft, you might want to read this part carefully.  According to the Federal Trade Commission, you can probably assume that there is foul play if your child is;

  • turned down for any government benefits. A child being turned away for benefits can typically be associated with the fact that someone else is claiming your child’s social security number and using the government assistance for themselves.
  • receive a notice from IRS stating that your child has not paid their income taxes, or
  • get collection mail or calls for products or services that neither you nor your child received

If you ever suspect that your child’s information has been tampered with in any way, do yourself a favor and call the three nationwide credit reporting companies; Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion ([email protected]) to ask for a manual search of your child’s file. After you follow up with the credit report agencies, and discover your child’s information has indeed been stolen, have each of the credit report companies remove all accounts, account inquiries, and collection notices from any file associated with your child’s name and social security number.  Finally, file a fraud report online or call 877-438-4338. You can never be too safe when it comes to protecting your children.

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About Audra D. Luke

Author of From Powerless to Empowered (a step-by-step guide to empowering teen girls)

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