Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.
Identity theft is a common concern for many Americans, and unfortunately, there’s good reason for that. There are numerous factors that impact your risk, from where you live to your credit score.
Despite the frequency of identity theft among adults, children might actually be at an even greater risk. The unsettling part? You’ll probably have no idea it’s happening to your child.
Criminals target minors for similar reasons they target deceased individuals: it is less likely that someone is checking their credit report. They then use their personal information, typically for non-financial purposes, like applying for apartment rentals or getting medical treatment.
Resources for Protecting Your Child’s Identity
There are many resources to help protect your child from identity theft. ABC15 outlined a few.
Just like how your credit report represents your financial health, MIB.com represents your medical health. You can request your child’s consumer file and review their personal data to check for red flags that don’t match up with their own background, like medical conditions and lab results.
Realpage.com allows you to access your rental and eviction history through your consumer report. Any information associated with your name and social security number is included in your report, so you can tell if someone else is using your child’s name to rent properties.
First Advantage is a great consumer reporting agency that conducts non-credit-related background checks on individuals to share with employers and housing providers. Reviewing your child’s file can help you understand if someone else is misusing their information.
How to Avoid Child Identity Theft
To reduce the likelihood of having your child’s personal information stolen and misused, you can follow these tips:
Monitor their smartphone use.
Smartphones serve many functions, from entertainment to communication. Today, an overwhelming percentage of children have access to these devices, including toddlers. While it might seem like innocent fun, smartphones can also open your children up to identity theft.
Monitoring your children’s cell phone use might seem invasive, but it’s often necessary to avoid serious consequences like identity theft. The precautions differ depending on your child’s age and maturity level, but they can save you and your family from months of recovery. Make sure they’re only visiting safe, approved websites and using apps designed specifically for their age group.
Teach them basic internet security.
When your child is old enough to begin using the internet and creating their own online accounts, make sure you’re sharing basic cybersecurity tips, such as changing their password and looking for the “HTTPS” security indicator in their browser navigation bar.
Discourage them from sharing personal info with strangers.
As a parent, it’s your job to instill awareness and shrewdness in your children. Teach them the about the dangers of posting personal information online or giving it to strangers. Being open and honest with your kids will have a lasting impact that could prevent many privacy issues, including identity theft.
Check your child’s public record.
Run your child’s name through a background check or public records search platform like BeenVerified to see if any unusual activity or records are associated with their name. If you spot something out of the ordinary, you can then contact the appropriate organization to determine if fraud occurred.