A Javelin report revealed that over a million children were affected in 2018 from ID theft losses totaling $2.6 billion and families paying over $540 million out-of-pocket.
There are some things kids just shouldn’t have to worry about—and identity theft is one of them. See why kids are being targeted at an increasingly alarming rate, and what you can do to stop it.
What is child identity theft?
Child identity theft is when someone illegally uses the name and/or personal information of a minor for their personal gain. This could mean opening a credit card in their name, applying for jobs under their identity or, perhaps worst of all, committing crimes under their name.
When undetected for too long, child identity theft can destroy a child’s future before it even starts.
Seniors are Targets, Too
What do parents need to know about child identity theft?
- Why kids? They’re an easy target with clean credit histories. Their info can be accessed and used for long periods of time without being detected, since most parents don’t periodically check for vulnerabilities or warning signs.
- What’s at risk? Their name and Social Security number for starters. ID thieves look for any piece of information that can lead to personal gain. Sometimes this can start with something as simple as a password—which can lead to a treasure trove of data for identity theft.
- What’s at risk?How are children targeted? Children become victims of identity theft the same ways as anyone else: through theft, data breaches, hacking and more.
- Who targets them? Identity predators usually look for children or elders to scam. But it’s not just strangers who steal from the innocent. That same Javelin report mentioned above found that 60 percent of child victims are known by the thief (relatives, or friends of the family—or even the parent themselves); this is significantly less than the 7 percent of adults who reported knowing their ID thieves.
The lessons learned from all these realities is simple: when it comes to your children and their identity, they need protection.
What to do if your child is the victim of identity theft?
If you’re fortunate enough not to have encountered child id theft, let’s keep it that way. Here are the must-know tips for preventing child identity theft:
- Never share your children’s personal info with anyone other than trusted care takers, and even then, only on a need-to-know basis. Their birth certificates and social security cards should be kept in a safe and secure place.
- Warning signs exist – watch for preapproved credit cards or bills coming for your kids in the mail.
- Check for a credit report in their name (The Federal Trade Commission outlines the steps for this here.)
- Put a credit freeze on your child’s name until they’re old enough to need one, which will stop anyone from opening an account in their name.
- Know your rights—it’s perfectly okay to ask questions about your child’s information. Knowing how your schools or healthcare professional handle and protect your family’s personal information is fine, and good, to ask about.
- Identity monitoring services are a great way to get peace-of-mind knowing you can act fast when the inevitable happens. IPG’s 24/7 monitoring service will immediately ping you on suspicious activity, acting fast to stop fraudsters right in their tracks.
- The best way to always stay one step ahead of fraudsters is through education. Check back to our blog monthly to see what’s new in identity theft prevention.
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