When I was younger, I had my identity stolen. I’m not sure what happened because I’ve always had my same social security card and I didn’t have much else because I wasn’t even a teenager when my information was first stolen.
A child’s information could be used to apply for a credit card, a loan, a mortgage (yes, that has happened before!), and so on. Below are different things to think about when it comes to children and identity theft.
How can identity thieves find a child’s information?
There are many ways for how a thief could get their hands on a child’s information.
One big way is when information is lost. You should always keep information related to your child in a safe place, and keep their social security card tucked away in a safe spot with yours.
Another way that thieves can get their hands on your child’s information is through paperwork. This could include school forms because they usually ask for a lot of very important information.
How can I keep my child’s information safe?
Since my identity was stolen when I was very young, I am always aware of what is going on when it comes to my credit and my identity. You will want to store all of your child’s information in a safe place, just like you would with yours. Just because your child is young does not mean that they are safe from identity thieves. They don’t care how young your child is!
You should also always be careful with who you give their social security number and other important information to. You have the right to ask what they need the number, and you can also ask how they store that information.
Lastly, if there is any information that is important, you should shred it instead of just throwing it away. And you want to shred it VERY WELL because identity thieves are masters at putting little, tiny pieces of paper together in order to figure out the information that they need. I once saw a TV show where “retired” identity thieves went through someone’s trash and easily put together shredded documents and just taped it all together. It’s really that easy.
For me, I will black out any important information on a piece of paper with a black pen or with a permanent marker. Then I will shred that piece of paper so many times that it would be absolutely impossible to put the puzzle pieces back together.
What should I do first?
If you think your child’s information may be compromised, you should check to see if they have a credit report first. You will want to ask for a copy from each of the three credit reporting agencies.
If something is wrong….
If you find an error, then you will want to correct it. You should contact each credit reporting agency and ask them to remove all errors and contact each place where this theft happened. You might request a credit freeze since your child won’t be needed their credit most likely anyways.
Have you ever had your identity stolen? What happened? Is everything fixed now?
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Image via Flickr by Don Hankins