Child identity theft: Protecting your kids and their credit score

Imagine that your son or daughter is ready to start college and apply for student loans. You do your job as a financially prudent parent and talk to your kids about finances, budgets and the importance of credit. How would you react to learning that your child’s credit score was damaged due to identity theft? Can your family pay for college tuition and expenses if your son or daughter cannot get a student loan? It can happen to anyone, and often, child victims of identity theft do not learn about it until they are young adults and are denied credit.

Strangers as well as adult family members perpetrate child identity theft.

It may not occur to most people, but there are parents who take advantage of their children by using their social security numbers to obtain credit, often when their own credit reputations are damaged. Divorced parents who suspect their former spouse is using their child’s credit can order a copy of the child’s credit report and investigate suspected identity theft. In the event you discover fraud, an attorney can help. Credit damage experts can also get involved to suggest options to repair damaged credit and in some cases, assist in lawsuits against identity thieves.

Protecting your children from identity theft starts with an audit of the individuals and organizations having access to your son or daughter’s non-public information. The Federal Trade Commission website contains consumer information about identity theft prevention and states, “A child’s Social Security number can be used by identity thieves to apply for government benefits, open bank and credit card accounts, apply for a loan or utility service, or rent a place to live. Check for a credit report to see if someone misused your child’s information. Take immediate action if it is.” You may be surprised how easily private information can travel and fall into the wrong hands. “Many school forms require personal and, sometimes, sensitive information. Find out how your child’s information is collected, used, stored, and thrown away. Your child’s personal information is protected by law. Asking schools and other organizations to safeguard your child’s information can help minimize your child’s risk of identity theft,” says the FTC.[i]

Take some time to review the resources offered by the Federal Trade Commission regarding child identity theft.

The FTC Child Identity Theft page on its website contains a list of warning signs and helps parents who want to check for a credit report to prevent and repair damage. Fraud alerts, credit freezes and other steps parents can take to protect their son or daughter are worth some time and consideration.[ii] Being aware of the risks and acting proactively can help families maintain peace of mind, especially as kids head to school this fall.

If you want to learn more about consumer credit, child identity theft and matters affecting a family’s finances, contact an attorney at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you do suspect your son or daughter is a victim of child identity theft and you need legal assistance and referral to other experts who can help please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by dialing (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney.

[i] Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information on Child Identity Theft

[ii] Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information on Extended Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes