Imagine your child having maxed-out credit cards and a home foreclosed on before he or she even graduates high school. That may seem improbable, yet its not as rare as you may think. Child identity theft is a growing trend and it leads to nightmare scenarios that can be tough to rectify. Child identity theft occurs when a childs Social Security Number and other personal information is stolen and used by someone to assume that identity.
Children represent the perfect targets for identity thieves. Because they rarely carry debt at that early age, and its unlikely they will be keeping track of their credit score, in essence they are blank slates. Children are 51 times more likely to have their identity stolen than adults.1 These false identities can be used to acquire credit cards, set up bank accounts, obtain drivers licenses and even take out loans for car and house purchases. Unfortunately, child identity theft is often not discovered until great damage has been done.
Its important for parents to remain vigilant in protecting children from identity theft. The following steps can be taken to avoid child identity thefts devastating effects:
- keep an eye out for mail addressed to your child, especially credit card offers or debt collection materials; >
- dont share your childs Social Security Number unless its necessary and ask what its needed for and how it will be protected;
- speak to your child about the importance of keeping their personal information safe; and
- acquire a credit report with your childs personal information by contacting the three credit agencies below or visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. You are entitled to a free credit report once a year from each agency. If activity is discovered, immediately report findings with these credit agencies and file an identity theft report with local police.
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
In addition, I recently helped pass legislation that protects students right to privacy (A.7872-A). This legislation gives parents of students and students age 18 or older the opportunity to opt out of the state Education Departments disclosure of personal identifiable information to a third party. A childs personal information should never be compromised.
For more information regarding child identity theft or to file a complaint, please contact the states Division of Consumer Protection at 518-474-8583 or www.dos.ny.gov. You can also contact me to discuss this or any other issue at 516-599-2972 or email@example.com.