You monitor your child be sure he takes a bath, does his homework and eats healthy meals, but many parents don't think to extend their diligent parenting to checking their child's credit record. That's exactly what identity thefts are banking on, and it's why many of them target children. By the time your child is old enough to apply for a student loan or credit card, the damage has been done, usually long before your child is grown. If you discover that your child's identity has been stolen, no matter how old he is right now, take steps to remedy the situation immediately.
Know the Signs of Identity Theft
Before you even begin to figure out what to do if your child's identity is stolen, you should know the warning signs. When you're aware of these warning signs, you can take action sooner, which can minimize the damage to your child's credit report. According to the Federal Trade Commission, your child's identity might have been stolen if you get notices from collection agencies in his name or if you receive bills for products you didn't buy that are also in your child's name. If your child starts getting solicitations for credit cards or if you try to open a bank account in his name and it's denied because of a poor credit history, his identity might have been stolen. A big warning sign is if your child has a credit history at all, which you can find out by typing his Social Security number into a credit bureau's website or by calling them.
Notify Credit Bureaus
If you determine that your child's identity has, in fact, been stolen, notify all three credit bureaus immediately. Call TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. You'll be asked to give your child's name and Social Security number. You might also be asked to provide a copy of your child's birth certificate, proof of address and a copy of your identification, such as a driver's license. Once you've notified the credit bureaus, they'll flag or freeze your child's account so no more negative information can be added.
Fix the Damage
Ask the first credit bureau to put a fraud alert on your child's account. That credit bureau will contact the other two bureaus so they can also put a fraud alert on your child's account, the Federal Trade Commission notes. From there, you need to contact each credit bureau individually and ask them to remove the accounts, account information and collection notices associated with your child's name and Social Security number. You should also contact each of the businesses on your child's credit report to notify them that your child's information was misused. Ask each business to close your child's accounts and flag them as being used fraudulently. The Federal Trade Commission reports that if the information on your child's credit report was related to medical expenses or taxes, you'll also need to file a police report.
Prevent It From Happening Again
Prevent future identity theft by carefully protecting your child's Social Security number. Never provide your child's Social Security number without first asking why someone needs it. Ask if you can provide a different form of identification instead. If you must give your child's Social Security number, ensure that it'll be disposed of properly when it's done being used for identification purposes, the California Office of Privacy Protection recommends. Keep your child's Social Security card and documents with it printed on them is a safe and secure place. Don't carry your child's Social Security card in your purse or wallet because if it gets lost or stolen, someone has easy access to your child's identity. Shred any papers that have the number before throwing them away, as well.