Check Your Child’s Credit? Might Be a Shrewd Move

Adults are not the only ones who can fall victim to identity theft. Learn the signs that indicate your child might be a target.

Check Your Child’s Credit? Might Be a Shrewd Move Photo (cc) by < J >

Here’s a scary thought: Parents should consider checking their children’s credit reports well before the little ones are old enough to apply for credit.

The Associated Press reports that experts say more parents should monitor their children’s credit.

That’s because even kids can fall prey to identity theft — but it usually doesn’t become apparent until years later, when the child is rejected for a student loan, for example. Identity thieves often prefer to target kids because the crooks can get away with their crime for a longer period of time.

Thieves only need a child’s Social Security number to fraudulently open a credit card or take out a loan in the child’s name, Eva Velasquez — president and chief executive of the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center — tells the AP.

Such thieves often use different names and dates of births when opening accounts under the stolen Social Security number.

According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information website, identity thieves can also use a child’s Social Security number to apply for government benefits, open a bank account, apply for a utility service or rent a home.

The FTC says there are warning signs that might indicate a child’s personal information is being used fraudulently. They include the child or parent:

  • Being turned down for government benefits because the benefits are being paid to another account using the child’s Social Security number.
  • Getting a notice from the Internal Revenue Service saying the child didn’t pay income taxes, or that the child’s Social Security number was used on another tax return.
  • Getting collection calls or bills for products or services you didn’t receive.

To learn more about child identity theft, check out the AP’s Q&A with Velasquez or the FTC’s Child Identity Theft page, which includes directions for checking a child’s credit.

If you or one of your children need to restore credit, check out “Get Help Restoring Your Credit.”

Have you or anyone you know ever dealt with child identity theft? Let us know below or on Facebook.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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