Have you ever received a piece of junk mail addressed to your underage child that you simply discarded? Next time, dig a little deeper into the content. Why? Because a credit card or loan offer can be one warning sign that your child may be a victim of identity theft. Left undetected, your child can be connected to massive fraudulent debt and bad credit before they can even vote.
One in 40 families with children under 18 had at least one child whose personal information was compromised, according to the most recent survey by the Identity Theft Assistance Center and the Javelin Strategy & Research group (2012).
“Risk is part of parenting, and I accept that I will be unable to prevent all harm from befalling my child. Luckily, certain threats can be proactively avoided, and one of those threats is identity theft,” said Trevor Buxton, fraud awareness and communications manager with PNC’s Enterprise Fraud Group and father of an eight-month-old son.
All it takes is a Social Security number, which can be paired with a different name, birth date and address to apply for credit. This is called a synthetic identity. Fraudsters create these synthetic identities and can often go undetected until a child turns 18.
“The primary use of stolen personal information is for financial purposes,” said Buxton. “Using the stolen Social Security number, identity thieves can open up credit cards, rent apartments, buy cars, secure jobs and apply for welfare or other government programs.”
Buxton advises that parents take simple steps when children are young to help avoid child identity theft. “It’s my duty to ensure that my son has every available advantage and safeguard. Since he does not need to open credit accounts anytime soon, I placed a security freeze on his credit profile to protect his identity,” said Buxton. “The next step is shedding his identity as ‘boy who constantly puts his feet in his mouth.’”
As a parent, you can be proactive in protecting your child from identity theft:
If you suspect your child may be a victim:
Learn more about protecting yourself from identity theft »
A security freeze provides greater protection than credit monitoring services alone. Credit monitoring provides alerts to unauthorized inquiries and activity in a credit profile, whereas a security freeze prevents inquiries from ever taking place.
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