These days a lot of moms and dads believe that they have full control of their children’s digital footprints online. With the right privacy settings and filtering their social media accounts to a limited number of family and friends, they feel confident that their children’s privacy is protected. But a new study says that’s not always the case. In fact, there’s a new report that states that child identity theft is becoming a huge problem, especially when it comes to their identities and credit file.
When it comes to credit theft, the statistics are alarming. NBC News reported that more than 1 million children had their identities stolen in 2017; two-thirds were under the age of eight. The most troubling aspect is that it can take years to see the damage and potentially not until your child is nearing adulthood and first applying for credit.
“Child identity fraud is a serious problem and is frequently overlooked as the public focuses on high-profile breaches involving the personally identifiable information of adults,” said Al Pascual, Senior Vice President, Research and Head of Fraud & Security at Javelin Strategy & Research, according to Scary Mommy. “Child identity fraud has unique characteristics that make it particularly hard to prevent, though there are steps that parents and guardians can take to help keep children safe.”
So, what is a parent to do? First, you need to check with the Social Security Administration once a year to make sure no one is using your child's SSN. Secondly, you need to check your child's credit report. Also, contact each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies and place a fraud alert. The best thing you can do is educate yourself about your rights and your child’s rights and consider requesting a credit freeze. You can also order your child’s credit reports or contact businesses where your child’s information was misused.
And more importantly, stay calm and breathe. While identity theft does occur, there’s more of a likelihood that an adult will be targeted than a minor. Don’t panic and let the experts help you rectify the situation and get your child’s credit file back on track.
In addition, minors 14 and older, or their parents, may request a credit report through Experian's website, by calling 800-311-4769, or through AnnualCreditReport.com. Also, keep in mind that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) tracks identity theft statistics, helps victims, and coordinates responses by various governmental agencies. They estimate that recovering from identity theft takes an average of six months and 200 hours of work.