Child Identity Theft
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.
Several signs can tip you off to the fact that someone is misusing your child’s personal information and committing fraud. For example, you or your child might:
- be turned down for government benefits because the benefits are being paid to another account using your child’s Social Security number
- get a notice from the IRS saying the child didn’t pay income taxes or that the child’s Social Security number was used on another tax return
- get collection calls or bills for products or services you didn’t receive
Check for a Credit Report
If you think your child's information is at risk, check whether your child has a credit report.
1. Contact each of the 3 nationwide credit reporting companies.
- Ask for a manual search of the child's file.
- The companies will check for files relating to the child's name and Social Security Number and for files related only to the child's Social Security Number.
- The credit reporting companies may require copies of: the child's birth certificate listing parents; the child's Social Security card; the parent or guardian's government-issued identification card, like a driver's license, or copies of documents proving the adult is the child's legal guardian; proof of address, like a utility bill, or credit card or insurance statement.
2. Update your files.
- Record the dates you made calls or sent letters.
- Keep copies of letters in your files.
Repair the Damage
Contact each Credit Reporting Company
If your child’s credit report shows the child’s information is being misused, call each credit reporting company. Ask each company to remove all accounts, account inquiries, and collection notices from any file associated with your child’s name and Social Security Number.
Contact every business where your child’s information was misused. Ask each business to close the fraudulent account and flag it to show it resulted from identity theft.
Place a Fraud Alert
Ask each company to put a fraud alert on your child’s credit report. Contact one company; that company will contact the other two.
File a Fraud Report
File a report with the FTC online or call 1-877-438-4338. If the fraud relates to medical services or taxes, you might need to file a police report, too.
How to Help a Child Victim of Identity Theft
- Contact each of the 3 nationwide credit reporting companies. Send a letter asking the companies to remove all accounts, inquires and collection notices associated with the child’s name or personal information. Explain that the child is a minor and include a copy of the Uniform Minor's Status Declaration.
- Place a fraud alert.
- Learn about your rights. The credit reporting company will explain that you can get a free credit report and will discuss other rights you have.
- Consider requesting a credit freeze. The credit reporting companies may ask for proof of the child’s and parent’s identity.
- Order the child's credit reports. Review the credit reports.
- Contact businesses where the child's information was misused.
- Create an Identity Theft Report.
Prevention = Protection
You can take steps to protect your child’s identity from misuse:
Find a safe location for all paper and electronic records that show your child’s personal information.
Don’t share your child’s Social Security Number unless you know and trust the other party. Ask why it’s necessary and how it will be protected. Ask if you can use a different identifier, or use only the last four digits of your child’s Social Security Number.
Shred all documents that show your child’s personal information before throwing them away.
Be aware of events that put information at risk. For example, there might be an adult in your household who might want to use a child’s identity to start over; you might lose a wallet, purse, or paperwork that has your child’s Social Security information; there could be a break-in at your home; or a school, doctor’s office, or business might notify you that your child’s information was affected by a security breach.