Child Identity Theft: What Every Parent Should Know

by Adrian Yang

Child Identity Theft: What Every Parent Should Know

Child ID Fraud on the Rise

Child identity theft is a growing problem that affects millions of families every year, and unfortunately, one of the most common perpetrators of this crime is a child’s own parent. While many parents are aware of the risks of identity theft for themselves, they may not realize that their children are also at risk.

Lets explore the alarming trend of child identity theft by a parent and provide you with the information you need to know to protect your child’s identity. From how it happens to the steps you can take to prevent it, we’ll cover everything you need to know to keep your child’s personal information safe.

Understanding Child Identity Theft: Why is it a Growing Problem?

Identity theft is a serious issue that can happen to any family, and it’s important for parents to be aware of it. Child identity theft occurs when someone steals a child’s personal information, such as their Social Security number, to open credit accounts or take out loans. This can have serious consequences for your child’s future, including damage to their credit score and difficulties getting approved for loans or even a job.

But don’t worry, parents! There are some things you can do to safeguard your kiddo’s sensitive information and prevent sneaky scammers from stealing their identity. By being vigilant and proactive, you can help ensure that your child’s future remains secure and protected.

family smiling

How Prevalent is Child Identity Theft, and What Drives Parents to Commit It?

Shockingly, the Identity Theft Resource Center’s study reveals that 20% of identity theft victims are under the age of 18. Compounding this problem, many child victims of identity fraud or theft only discover the crime once they’ve reached adulthood, making it challenging to identify and apprehend the perpetrators.

It might be difficult to fathom why parents would steal their child’s identity. However, various factors could drive them to commit this act. Some parents, struggling financially, may see identity theft as an opportunity to improve their circumstances. Others, burdened by a history of financial issues or criminal records, may find it impossible to obtain credit and resort to using their child’s information. In some instances, parents may attempt to conceal their poor credit history by misappropriating their child’s identity.

Regardless of the underlying reasons, it is crucial to recognize that child identity theft is a severe crime with far-reaching consequences for both the child and the parent involved.

The Life Changing Repercussions of Child Identity Theft on Your Child’s Future

As parents, we strive to provide the best possible future for our children. Regrettably, child identity theft can cause severe and long-lasting harm to a child’s prospects. It can ruin their credit score, hinder their ability to secure loans, credit cards, or even employment, and create obstacles when renting an apartment, purchasing a car, or applying for college.

Fortunately, proactive measures can be taken to prevent child identity theft and safeguard your child’s future. By vigilantly protecting your child’s personal information, you can help guarantee a secure and bright future for them. So, don’t wait – educate yourself on the risks of child identity theft and formulate a plan to shield your child from identity theft today.

thief stealing child identity

Recognizing the Signs of Child Identity Theft by a Parent

Being vigilant and aware of potential red flags is crucial in detecting child identity theft. If you begin receiving credit card or loan offers addressed to your child or notice unfamiliar charges on their credit report, it could indicate that someone has opened accounts using their identity. Additionally, check if their Social Security number has been used to open accounts.

Should you suspect your child’s identity has been stolen, act promptly. Contact the credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your child’s credit report and reach out to any financial institutions where fraudulent activity may have occurred.

Proactive Measures to Guard Against Child Identity Theft by a Parent

Preventing child identity theft requires proactive measures and taking precautions to secure your child’s personal information.

Consider these tips to help parents safeguard their child’s identity:

  • Shred documents containing personal information before discarding them
  • Exercise caution when sharing personal information online
  • Limit the amount of personal information you disclose on social media
  • Create strong, unique passwords for online accounts
  • Educate your child about the importance of protecting their personal information and how to defend against identity theft

By implementing these steps, you can contribute to the protection of your child’s identity and help secure their financial future.

children in circle laughing

Discussing Identity Theft with Your Kids

While parents may be aware of identity theft risks for themselves, they often overlook that their children are similarly vulnerable. Hence, it’s crucial to discuss child identity theft with your kids and educate them on protecting their personal information.

Begin by explaining identity theft in a manner your child can comprehend. Use real-life examples, such as a thief stealing someone’s credit card and making unauthorized purchases, to clarify the concept. Additionally, discuss the reasons behind identity theft and its negative consequences.

Teach your child to safeguard personal information, such as their Social Security number, birthdate, and bank account details. Encourage cautious online sharing of personal data and the use of strong, secure passwords. Include your child in monitoring their credit report and checking for errors or suspicious activity. These conversations can help shield your child from the potentially devastating impact of child identity theft.

Reasons Behind the Overlooked and Underreported Nature of Child Identity Theft

Parents naturally strive to protect their children’s future, but child identity theft often goes overlooked and underreported. This occurs because many parents are unaware of the possibility of their child’s identity being stolen and may not recognize identity theft indicators.

Another factor contributing to the overlooked nature of child identity theft is the difficulty in detecting it. Unlike adult identity theft, which can be identified through credit monitoring or suspicious credit card activity, child identity theft often remains undiscovered until the child applies for credit or a job in adulthood.

Underreporting of child identity theft stems from parents being uncertain about where or whom to report the crime. Moreover, they may be hesitant to report it if they suspect a family member’s involvement.

free from children identity theft

The Disproportionate Impact of Child Identity Theft on Marginalized Communities

Child identity theft affects every community, but it disproportionately impacts marginalized communities for various reasons.

Here’s why:

  • Resource limitations: Marginalized communities may lack access to resources needed for monitoring their child’s credit report or addressing identity theft incidents
  • Language barriers: Limited English proficiency in some families within marginalized communities can hinder understanding of vital documents and communication with credit bureaus and financial institutions.
  • Distrust in financial institutions: Historical and systemic discrimination may lead some families in marginalized communities to be skeptical of or distrust financial institutions.
  • Higher poverty rates: Greater vulnerability to financial exploitation and identity theft can result from higher poverty rates in marginalized communities.
  • Immigration status: Families with undocumented members may hesitate to report child identity theft due to fears of repercussions or deportation.

These factors make it crucial for parents in marginalized communities to proactively protect their child’s identity.

Psychological Consequences on Children and Parents

Beyond the financial ramifications, child identity theft can inflict severe psychological effects on both the affected child and the parent.

For children, identity theft can evoke feelings of betrayal and mistrust towards the perpetrator, especially if a family member is involved. They may also experience anxiety and fear about their future financial stability, impacting their mental health and overall well-being.

Parents, on the other hand, may undergo a traumatic experience upon discovering their child’s stolen identity. They might grapple with guilt and shame for not protecting their child and harbor anger towards the thief. The stress of addressing the aftermath of identity theft can also strain the parent’s mental health and well-being.

social security on top of keyboard

The Role of Technology in Child Identity Theft and Online Protection Measures

While technology has made life more convenient in many ways, it has also introduced new opportunities for child identity theft. With the growing use of online platforms and digital transactions, parents must be vigilant about safeguarding their children’s personal information online.

Here are some strategies for protecting your kids online:

  • Use robust passwords and activate two-factor authentication for accounts containing personal information
  • Educate your children about online safety, emphasizing the importance of not sharing personal information with strangers
  • Monitor your child’s online activity and implement parental controls on devices and apps
  • Employ reputable antivirus software and consistently update devices and software with the latest security patches
  • Be cautious of suspicious emails or texts requesting personal information, and avoid clicking links or downloading attachments from unknown sources

By proactively safeguarding your children’s personal information online, you can help minimize the risk of child identity theft.

children playing together

Steps to Take If You Suspect Your Child’s Identity Has Been Stolen by a Parent

Finding out that a parent has stolen your child’s identity can be a heartbreaking and emotionally charged ordeal. In such cases, it’s crucial to take immediate action to protect your child’s credit and financial future.

Start by gathering evidence of your child’s identity theft, such as suspicious charges on credit reports or notifications of new accounts opened in their name. Once you’ve collected this evidence, contact the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your child’s credit report. This will inform creditors of potential identity theft and prevent new accounts from being opened without your permission.

Cooperating with Credit Bureaus and Banks to Resolve Child Identity Theft

Dealing with your child’s identity theft can be a frightening and overwhelming experience. However, it’s essential to act quickly to resolve the issue with credit bureaus and banks in order to safeguard your child’s financial future. Taking prompt action and following the necessary steps can help you navigate this challenging situation.

identity theft shredded paper

Legal Implications of Child Identity Theft and Available Recourses

If you discover that your child’s identity has been stolen, even by a parent, it’s crucial to take legal action to hold the perpetrator accountable and protect your child’s financial future. Child identity theft is a serious issue, and addressing it promptly can make a significant difference in the long run.

One legal option is to file a police report, which can help document the identity theft and may be required by some banks or credit bureaus to resolve the issue. Depending on the severity of the identity theft, criminal charges may be filed against the responsible parent. Additionally, civil lawsuits may be filed to seek compensation for any damages resulting from the identity theft.

It’s important to note that the legal process can be complex and emotionally charged, particularly when it involves a family member. Seeking legal advice from a trusted attorney can help you navigate the process and understand your options.

Repairing Your Child’s Credit and Preventing Future Damage

Discovering that your child’s identity has been stolen can be a nightmare for any parent. However, taking action to repair your child’s credit and prevent future damage is crucial to protecting their financial future. It can have long-lasting consequences, but proactive steps can mitigate the damage.

Steps to repair your child’s credit after identity theft:

  • Contact the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to dispute any fraudulent accounts or charges on your child’s credit report.
  • Provide any evidence you have of the identity theft, such as police reports or affidavits.
  • Consider placing a credit freeze on your child’s credit report to prevent anyone from opening new accounts in their name without your permission.

Monitor your child’s credit report regularly for any signs of fraudulent activity. You can request a free credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus. Educate your child about the importance of protecting their personal information and how to avoid scams and identity theft.

Addressing Child Identity Theft in Co-Parenting Situations

When it comes to co-parenting situations, discussing child identity theft with your ex-partner can be a sensitive issue. However, it’s important to have an open and honest conversation about the situation to protect your child’s financial future.

Tips for approaching the conversation:

  • Gather any evidence of the identity theft, such as credit reports or police reports.
  • Schedule a time to sit down with your ex-partner and discuss the situation calmly and respectfully.
  • Avoid placing blame or getting defensive, and instead focus on finding a solution that works for both of you and your child.
  • Explain the steps you’ve taken so far to address the identity theft, and ask your ex-partner to do the same.

Ultimately, your child’s well-being is the top priority. Work together to safeguard their financial future.

your identity shredded paper

Understanding the Societal Impact of Child Identity Theft

It is more than just an individual problem; it has far-reaching consequences for society. Victims and their families may face long-term financial and emotional repercussions, affecting communities as a whole.

Why child identity theft is a societal issue:

  • Financial implications include difficulty obtaining loans, credit cards, and housing due to damaged credit scores, impacting the economy, financial institutions, and businesses.
  • Emotional distress, anxiety, and depression can result from child identity theft, leading to trust issues, strained relationships, and decreased quality of life.

Identity theft can exacerbate systemic inequalities and marginalization. Children from disadvantaged communities may be more vulnerable due to factors like poverty, limited credit access, and scarce legal resources. This perpetuates existing disparities and hinders these children’s ability to succeed in life.

children holding out peace sign

Protecting Your Child by Freezing Their Credit Report

Freezing your child’s credit report is an effective measure to prevent child identity theft.

Key points about freezing your child’s credit report:

  • Preventing unauthorized access to your child’s credit report, including identity thieves, is possible by freezing their credit. This safeguard ensures that any attempts to open a credit account using your child’s personal information will be denied.
  • Freezing your child’s credit report is both free and relatively easy. Contact the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to request a credit freeze for your child. To do this, you’ll need to provide proof of your identity, your child’s identity, and your relationship to the child.

Keep in mind that while a credit freeze is an effective tool for preventing child identity theft, it can also hinder your child’s ability to access credit in the future. If your child needs to apply for a loan or credit card, you’ll need to temporarily lift the credit freeze. This can be done by contacting the credit bureau and providing a PIN number that you’ll receive when you first initiate the credit freeze.

Advocate for Stronger Laws to Protect Children from Identity Theft

Stronger laws are crucial to protect children from identity theft, and your advocacy can make a difference.

Take action to influence lawmakers:

  • Research current laws and policies that protect children from identity theft at both the state and federal level to understand areas in need of improvement.
  • Join local or national advocacy groups focused on strengthening child identity theft laws. These groups will keep you informed on legislative developments and provide resources for taking action.
  • Contact your elected representatives at the local, state, and federal level to voice your support for stronger laws that protect children’s personal information. Use letters, phone calls, or attend town hall meetings to make your voice heard.

By spreading the word about child identity theft and the need for stronger protections, you can create change. Talk to other parents, educators, and community leaders, and use social media to raise awareness and promote action.

Empower Your Child to Protect Their Own Identity in the Future

Child identity theft can have severe consequences for both the child and the parent. Identity thieves can exploit stolen personal information to open bank accounts, credit cards, and other lines of credit in a child’s name, leaving them with a damaged credit score and overwhelming debt before they’re even old enough to understand what’s happening.

As a parent, taking proactive steps to prevent child identity theft is crucial. One way to achieve this is by empowering your child to protect their own identity. Teach them the importance of safeguarding their personal information, helping them understand why it’s vital to be cautious about who they share their details with.

Show your child how to create strong, secure passwords and encourage them to use different passwords for various accounts. This practice helps prevent hackers from accessing multiple accounts if a single password is compromised, thus mitigating the risk of child identity theft.

Educate your child on the warning signs of identity theft, such as receiving unexpected bills or credit card statements in their name, or being denied credit for no apparent reason. If they notice any of these red flags, they should inform you immediately.

Involve your child in monitoring their credit report as another means of empowering them to protect their identity. Teach them how to request a copy of their report and check for errors or suspicious activity. This will emphasize the importance of regular credit report monitoring and equip them with the tools necessary to detect and address problems early.

Encourage your child to take a proactive approach in protecting their identity. This includes regularly checking their bank and credit card statements, reporting suspicious activity to you or the appropriate authorities, and exercising caution when sharing personal information online. Taking these steps can significantly reduce the risk of child identity theft and ensure a more secure future for your child.

by Adrian Yang May 04, 2023